Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fighting Off Viruses

Shielding your computer from viruses is becoming more and |more difficult every day. While it may sound a bit paranoid, it is true that you cannot let your defense drop for one moment. Even commercial giant Microsoft has found its own computers infected on more than one occasion. 

Do you remember the 'good old days,' before the advent of the Internet and downloadable programs? Life was simple then in terms of computer viruses. The primary way to catch a virus then was via floppy disks. By today's standards, it used to take quite a while before a virus was able to infect a computer and slow down the system. The antivirus software of that time was usually able to identify and eliminate viruses before they caused too much harm. Additionally, computer users were pretty savvy about how to defend themselves by scanning all floppy disks before using them. 

The Internet changed all that. The Internet provided a medium by which viruses could travel from host to host with blinding speed. A computer user had to start to think about email, email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing, instant messaging, and software downloads as virus entry points. Modern viruses can attack through multiple entry points, propagate without human intervention, and take full advantage of vulnerabilities within a system or program. With technology advancing everyday, and the union of computers with other mobile devices, the potential for new types of threats also increases. 

Fortunately, the development of antivirus software has kept pace with the virus threats. Antivirus software is indispensable to a computer's ability to ward off viruses and other malicious programs. These software products are designed to guard against the ability of a virus to enter a computer through email, web browsers, file servers and desktops. Moreover, these programs offer a control feature that handles deployment, configuration and updating. A computer user should remain diligent and follow a couple of simple steps to guard against the threat of a virus: 

You should evaluate your current computer security system. With the danger of a new generation of viruses being able to attack in a large number of ways, the tactic of having just one kind of antivirus software has become obsolete. You need to be certain that you have protected all aspects of your computer system from the desktop to the network, and from the gateway to the server. Consider a more comprehensive security system which encompasses several features including antivirus, firewall, content filtering, and intrusion detection. This type of system will make it more difficult for the virus to infiltrate your system. 

You should install antivirus software created by a well-known, reputable company, because new viruses come out daily, so it is vital that you update your antivirus software daily. Become familiar with your software's real-time scan feature and configure it to start automatically each time you start up your computer. This will protect your system by automatically checking your computer each time it is powered up. 

Set your antivirus software to scan all new programs or files no matter from where they come from and apply caution when opening binary, Word, or Excel documents of unknown origin particularly if they were received during an online chat or as an attachment to an email. 

Make sure you perform regular backups in case your system is corrupted. It may be the only way to retrieve your data if you computer becomes infected. 

There are many applications available to consumers, so with a little research, you should be able to pick the program that is right for you. Many programs offer a trial version which permits you to download the program and test its capabilities. However, be aware that some anti-virus programs can be difficult to uninstall, so as a precaution make sure you set up a System Restore point and take back-ups before installing it. 

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