Thursday, March 13, 2008

How to avoid viruses and browse the internet safely.

This is a fairly well known subject but there are a few things that still infect people on a regular basis. One of my clients has about 65 users and 90 computers. I am constantly cleaning viruses and SpyBots because the users download them unknowingly and can’t figure out why. Here is a basic list of virus hot spots and how to avoid them. These are all from personal experience and how I have been infected in the past.

  1. The number one place I have seen viruses downloaded are FREE mouse cursors, and screen savers. I’m not sure why this is the case, but 90% of the viruses I deal with are from these downloads. It’s an easy way to drop a virus in the registry because of the installer needed for the cursors and screen savers. You may end up with the content you like but run a scan afterwards and you will more than likely find some type of virus or SpyBot .
  2. The next way and sure fire way of infecting your computer very badly is using P2P networking. These are better known as sites like; Limewire, Kazaa, Bearshare, etc.. Although they are great places to find free music, movies, games, programs, etc. (which are illegal to download) many of the files are packed full of viruses . An easy way to spot most of the viruses is to look at what you want to download, and then look at the size of the file. For example, if you are downloading music in MP3 form, one minute equals 1MB give or take. If the song you want is four minutes long and the file size is only 53kb, there is a very good chance that it contains a virus package . Basically if the file size seems way too small for what you want, it’s probably infected.
  3. Another way to download viruses unknowingly is to look for free pornography. A lot of so called free sites like to plant viruses in pictures and “ActiveX” content which you have to download to view the site. NEVER download this content if you have a choice. Also if a site asks you to click OK to view the site, it is more than likely a cleverly disguised installer that once you hit OK will download and install a virus or virus package for you.
  4. Also, you can get viruses not only from the internet, but also from e-mail. This subject is hopefully well known but I can’t stress enough how important it is to know how to filter these “spam” e-mails. If you set up your online e-mail in Microsoft outlook, there is a fairly good junk e-mail filter. Beware that sometimes legitimate e-mails are dropped into this folder so check it regularly. Only open e-mails from people or businesses you recognize. If you have to read an e-mail that you do not recognize, please don’t download the attachments. Finally, the internet is full of get rich quick, lose weight fast, and free offers “too good to pass up” and most of them are scams. If it looks good it’s probably not. Research the site in google and put either “reviews” or “scam” after the subject in question.
  5. Finally, where I have caught the worst and most malicious viruses is while surfing the web and a pop-up comes up with “your computer is infected” or something along those lines. I made the mistake of downloading one of the so called tools just to find that it was a nice little virus package with something around 100 viruses included. Long story short I ended up having to rebuild my computer and spend a lot of time on trying to clean it. This virus was one that after it was removed it left a small batch file that would connect to the host site and download the package every time you restarted. So if you do catch one of these, disconnect from the internet immediately. Run all the tools you can get your hands on and remove anything that looks suspect. If you are lucky enough to get rid of it completely, never under any circumstances repeat what got you there in the first place.

I hope that these five subjects will help you become a more knowledgeable internet browser and e-mail reader and help keep you free of viruses. One thing I didn’t mention is that spybots are the same if not worse than viruses and a lot of them nowadays will steal your information and are aimed at taking your identity. Bottom line is, be careful, do not open yourself up to be easily influenced, and be sure to research anything that you are interested in.

Viruses infect us all and here are some easy ways to help you avoid them on a regular basis and how to protect yourself from allowing them to be downloaded.

Written by Branden DiLorenzo a professional on-site computer and network technician. All products listed are here for your help and are valid working products. If you are interested in more articles and blogs written by me visit:
My other blog
My advertising tips and tricks website
Tips for Buying a New Computer Article



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