Avoiding Viruses

As mentioned on the introduction page computer viruses can allow the person who wrote the virus to get control of your computer, get information from your computer, or potentially monitor your activity on the internet including your logon information used to access on-line banking or other financial transactions on the internet.

Computer viruses either exploit a defect in software running on your computer or they will try to trick you into running some code which will infect your computer. They spread primarily thorugh e-mail today.

This page will discuss how to avoid viruses. You can find general information about viruses at Viruses and Worms. You can learn more about how viruses work and what to do at Email Viruses

Good Defenses

  • Verify the sender of e-mails
  • Keep your anti-virus software operational and current with the latest virus definitions. Do virus definition updates often.
  • Run your computer with a personal firewall or from behind a corporate network's firewall while connected to the internet. This will protect you from worms (which are a type of virus exploiting weakness in your computer system) while you are connected to the internet.

Verify the Sender

As mentioned in the earlier page about avoiding internet scams, one good defense is to be sure the sender of your e-mails are really who they say they are. Also be sure the sender actually deliberately sent your the e-mail.

If you get an e-mail with an attachment from someone you know, consider whether there is enough personal information in the e-mail which a virus program would not know. If you are not sure your acquaintance sent the e-mail call them and be sure before opening the attachment. Do not count on your anti-virus software being able to stop you from getting infected if you open the e-mail attachment. Viruses are not always recognized right away by your anti-virus software and you could get a new unrecognized virus before your virus definition updates are released.

Keep Your Anti-Virus Software Healthy

Always have anti-virus software on your computer running in a real-time mode so it will try to stop a virus before it can infect your computer. However, this is only one part of your defense and should not be relied upon alone for total protection. Also keep your virus definitions current and update them at least twice per week or everytime you connect to the internet.

If you do get a virus, you should read the Removing Viruses page in our Basic Computer Tutorial.

Use a Personal Firewall

As mentioned in our Basic Computer Tutorial, if you are not behind a corporate firewall, purchase and install a personal firewall on your computer. This will help protect your system from many vulnerabilities that some worms will try to exploit.

Avoiding Internet Traps Tutorial Contents Page