Virus Info

More information on Viruses

 

More information on Viruses

 

 As an on-going project, I will be placing your experiences and input into this area. Some will be linked with the information of any products listed here for easy reference. Let us know if you have any information. Especially if there is any problem with any of the information on this page! The old adage applies here as well: “To error is human, to be perfect divine”. Being that we are human, use the following information as just that, and not infallible.

What is a Virus?

What many people call viruses are not classed as such, they are also known as Worms and Trojans.

A virus specifically is Code written with the express intention of replicating itself. A virus attempts to spread from computer to computer by attaching itself to a host program. It may damage hardware, software, or information. Just as human viruses range in severity from Ebola to the 24-hour flu, computer viruses range from the mildly annoying to the downright destructive. The good news is that a true virus does not spread without human action to move it along, such as sharing a file or sending an e-mail.  

A worm generally spreads without user action and distributes complete copies (possibly modified) of itself across networks. A worm can consume memory or network bandwidth, thus causing a computer to stop responding. Because worms don’t need to travel via a “host” program or file, they can also tunnel into your system and allow somebody else to take control of your computer remotely. It, like a virus, is designed to copy itself from one computer to another, but it does so automatically by taking control of features on the computer that can transport files or information. Once you have a worm in your system it can travel alone. A great danger of worms is their ability to replicate in great volume. For example, a worm could send out copies of itself to everyone listed in your e-mail address book, and their computers would then do the same, causing a domino effect of heavy network traffic that would slow down business networks and the Internet as a whole. When new worms are unleashed, they spread very quickly, clogging networks and possibly making you wait twice as long for you (and everyone else) to view Web pages on the Internet.

When you think Trojans, just think of the mythological Trojan horse. It appeared to be a gift, but turned out to contain Greek soldiers who overtook the city of Troy. Today’s Trojan horses are computer programs that appear to be useful software, but instead they compromise your security and cause a lot of damage. These can also arrive in the form of an e-mail appearing to come from some legitimate source like your Bank, or Microsoft.

Unless you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer, there is no sure way to know if you have a virus. Unfortunately even with protection, there is no guarantee that you will not get one or have one (that has not been discovered yet). There is however an operating system that is pretty much immune it is called Linux.

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Virus Prevention

The only absolute way to assure that you do not introduce a Virus into your system is for your computer to never have any communication with another computer or introduce any data or programs that have been in contact with another computer. This is somewhat impractical on that level, as the retail programs you install fall into that category. The disks you bought at your local retail store were developed on a computer. A few years back (1997) I bought a retail boxed program and installed it on my computer from the factory CD. The company that produced it was a well known name that predates Microsoft. A month after I installed it, my anti-virus program detected a virus (I had just updated my anti-virus product). I was in so much disbelief that I scanned the factory CD and sure enough, it was there! That being said; ALWAYS have a currently updated anti-virus program on your computer and setting reasonable limits to your computer’s contact with others is a good Idea.

Limits like:

  1. Never open files from people you do not know or do not consider VERY trustworthy.
  2. Never download files from web sites that are not controlled by legitimate companies (Big Names).
  3. Never Click on Pop Up adds (Especially if they say you have a virus)
  4. Never just assume anything (like your friends will always know what is safe.)
  5. If it’s free, it is probably a risk to use (unless it has been thoroughly checked out by someone you trust).
  6. Never use file sharing/downloading software like Kazaa or Morpheus. You will be wide open to attack!
  7. Always use caution. – Would you eat a piece a candy you: found on the ground; from a stranger; from someone you do not know who claims to be your friend?

Use the available resources to you to minimize your risk. Some important resources are:

Install an Anti-virus program, keep it updated frequently, or update the one you have frequently.

Updates:

  1. Operating System Updates:
    Microsoft Windows (click on check for updates)
    Mac OS (click on update)
  2. Application Updates:
    Microsoft Office (click on check for updates
  3. Anti-Virus Updates:
    This can be done from your product or downloaded from their web site.

 

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Anti-Virus Tests

A little on Virus Tests… Almost all Anti-virus products claim to use tests many of these are tests performed by the software vender themselves, as such, consider the source when seeking an honest evaluation of anti-virus products. Something to also consider it what type of computer and Operating systems these tests were performed on.
*** BEWARE! Some software advertised on these sites are not tested by them.***

ICSA Labs

Virus Bulletin

West Coast Labs

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Virus Products

Compatibility is key, as well as which product you determine suits your needs best. A good match can keep your computer running smoothly and a bad match will slow your system to a crawl. Let us know what you are using and how it works on your system. Below are some suggestions (Note: Always check ratings and compatibility before deploying software):

NOD

Microsoft Security Essentials

Norton AntiVirus

Mcafee AntiVirus

PC-cillin

Panda

Sophos

AVG (free)

ClamWin (free)

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Windows Vista/7 and Virus related problems

Windows Vista was promised to be a panacea of security by Microsoft instead it has brought many annoyances and new problems to our desk. After a user has seen about 100 requests to have permission to do something they start to say ok without reading anything. This pretty much guarantees that someone will just let a virus run instead of reading the one important warning out of hundred unnecessary ones. The other issue is that almost every good anti-virus product that has a firewall product will directly conflict with Vista when Vista decides to get an update and play with it’s firewall settings automatically. The user will then have NO I repeat NO internet connectivity. To date there is no patch for this by Microsoft. So if you buy protection, buy an antivirus product that does not have a firewall product with it, or buy Microsoft Onecare which has an antivirus and beefs up your Windows firewall without breaking your Internet connectivity. If you want to upgrade to a newer operating system that never has a problem with viruses go to Linux.

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Experiences, Stories, and your input.

The most common problem we have been fixing is when a client will suddenly have a pop up at a web site that says their “anti-virus is out of date click to update”. Without exception when clicked, it has loaded a virus that hijacks their browser and loads more viruses that are VERY persistent in causing problems on computers this would include systems that have antivirus products already installed most notably Norton or Mcafee . Real anti-virus products NEVER produce a browser popup from a web site requesting an update, scams and viruses do.

Recently I had a customer who downloaded and paid for a product called WinAntivirus 2009. (This product is advertised via a pop up on may web sites) As many other products do, it claimed to be better than all the other anti-virus products out there. This “product” introduced adware/malware and trojans to the system. IF IT IS NOT ON THE LIST ABOVE DO NOT USE!

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