Best tips on avoiding computer viruses

Top Tips For Stopping Computer Viruses

A computer virus is a piece of software which has been created to deliberately attack and invade your computer. It can be contained within a piece of software, a disk or an email and can cause serious damage and destruction to your business systems by replicating itself and infecting files and programs.

The threat of an attack by a computer virus is a very real one for all businesses. However, while there is much hype and fear around viruses, there are a few simple precautions you can take to help protect yourself against a potential attack.

Prevention

Preventing an invasion is the main priority. By following these seven steps you can limit the risk of a virus infecting your computer systems:

1. Install anti-virus software on your computer, making sure it’s updated to recognise the latest threats and using it regularly to scan your hard drive. If using a broadband connection you should install a Firewall.

2. Keep informed of the latest news on viruses and be aware of those currently in circulation. Share this information with your staff and colleagues.

3. Back up your data to at least one other machine or device so that if your computer is affected you’ll still have the information.

4. Check all new software you buy as viruses have been found on software which is still wrapped. Run a virus scan on all disks before using them as they may have been infected by another computer.

5. Delete all emails that you are not sure about and don’t open any email attachment, document or program that you were not expecting. Likewise, only download software from websites you are familiar with.

PC virus

6. Check the file extensions of emails. Those ending in .exe and .vbs could potentially carry a virus whereas files ending in .jpg and .gif will not. Never open a file with a double extension.

7. Use unique passwords. Many people still use default passwords for programs, but this makes you vulnerable to a security attack as hackers will guess these.

Damage limitation
If your computer does succumb to a virus attack, there are a few essential steps you can take to limit the damage it could do:

1. Once a virus is in your system, you must isolate it to one machine so it doesn’t spread across the network.

2. Use an anti-virus scanner to remove the virus or contact a specialist company to do this for you.

3. Make sure you change all passwords to systems in order to protect yourself in the future.

4. Take stock of all company records and data and make sure all information is accounted for and that files have not been deleted by the virus.

5. After eliminating all copies of the virus, alert everyone that might have been affected. For example, many viruses will infect your email system and send it on to your address book contacts so it is better if you let them know about the danger as soon as possible.

PC security

What’s the difference between a worm and a virus?

Virus
A virus lives in a software program, and can self replicate to infect other programs and disks. As it attaches to other programs, a virus can only be triggered when a program is opened or downloaded.

Worm
A worm can spread by itself – therefore it is much more dangerous. Worms don’t infect programs, but self replicate, creating more and more copies and eventually clogging up systems and slowing things down. Worms can spread via emails or on business networks.