A virus is a piece of software that can infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. Computer viruses can wreak havoc on computer systems, deleting files and stopping the computer from working altogether. Because viruses can be dangerous and hard to remove from a computer once it’s infected, it’s easier to prevent a virus infection
So how do you prevent a virus infection?
1. Subscribe to a good anti-virus protection program and keep it up to date. Some good ones include McAfee and Norton. If you’re unable to pay for a subscription, Grisoft AVG offers a decent free anti-virus program. There’s no excuse for not having anti-virus protection on the PC.
2. Install updates to your operating system. This patches security holes that viruses can use to do their dirty work.
3. Use a good firewall. There are several types of firewalls. Software Firewalls include the built-in Windows XP SP2 firewall and ZoneAlarm. Your internet router can also act as a firewall.
4. Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know
5. Don’t open attachments you don’t know, even if they’re from people you know. They may have unknowingly sent you a virus.
6. Use an email address that includes virus scanning. Several free ones include Gmail and Yahoo. Vivid Image uses Postini to scan all incoming emails for viruses, even if they’re on your approved senders list. Postini scans not once, but twice. The first time it uses McAfee Antivirus, the second time it scans with Authentium Antivirus.
7. Avoid downloading software programs you’re not familiar with. If you do, be sure to scan them before installing.
Most viruses come in through email attachments, so it’s especially important to pay attention to incoming emails. As long as you’re careful about which attachments you open, which programs you download, have a firewall, and use an up-to-date anti-virus program, you should be relatively safe against most virus attacks.
A note about different operating systems. The majority of viruses affect the windows operating systems, like Windows XP. The Mac, especially OS X, has a significantly less amount of viruses that can infect it. There are tens of thousands of viruses for the PC and only a few hundred for the Mac. However, I would still run an anti-virus program, like McAfee Virex, on the Mac just to be better safe than sorry.