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11.  TECH TIP – Viruses – how well are you protected?

 

According to Symantec, the makers of Norton Antivirus, there are 68,163 current virus threats out there.  (See http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/defs.added.html)

There are 10 or more viruses discovered everyday.  Your computer can pick up any one of these thousands of viruses just by clicking on an attachment from a friend that you are sure is safe.  Or, by connecting to the internet and visiting what you might consider a very safe site.

 

Are you protected adequately?  Here are some things to think about.  There are 2 parts to your antivirus software:

  • the software program
  • the definitions that you need to download every week to keep your computer protected.

 

Update your viruses definitions

If you have antivirus software on your computer (which you should), it is critical that you update your viruses definitions at least weekly.  You can do this with most antivirus software through automatic updates.  That is, you can set your antivirus software to get the newest virus definitions automatically every week at the same time.  Of course, your computer has to be turned on to connect to the internet to download the latest definitions.  There are some antivirus programs that do not allow for automatic updates – you have to update your definitions manually.

 

Update your software

But, it may not be enough to just update your virus’s definitions faithfully every week.  Your actual antivirus software program may also need to be updated.  If your computer is more than a year or two old, you probably have an old antivirus software program that well might be missing some of the new viruses that are now threatening computers.  For example, the current version of Norton Antivirus is Norton Antivirus 2005.  There are many computers that are still running Norton Antivirus 2002 or even earlier versions. 

 

The new threat – Jpegs.

The new viruses that are delivered through jpeg pictures are now serious threats to your computer.  (See: http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/security/0,2000061744,20265960,00.htm.)  And old antivirus software may not have the capability to detect these new viruses.  So it is advisable to purchase the newest version of your antivirus software, uninstall the old version and install the new version.  The new Norton Antivirus 2005 software program will set you back around 50 bucks.

 

How often?

Many gurus suggest that you update your antivirus software program every year or at least every one and a half years.  Yes, it does cost a few bucks more than just renewing your current subscription, but when you deduct the cost of the price for a year’s subscription of virus definitions, it is only an additional 25 bucks – well worth the price for the protection you will receive.

 

A Free Antivirus Software

There is an excellent FREE antivirus software program that gets very high ratings for the protection that it offers.  It is Grisoft’s AVG Antivirus.  You can download the free software here:   http://www.grisoft.com.  They also sell a professional version of this software which offers more features (like automatic updates).  But the free version does essentially the same thing and it does a better than adequate job.

 

What about Mac Users?

Macs continue to be, for the most part, free from virus related problems.  So the debate is, should one bother to get antivirus software for a Mac?  There are no known viruses for Mac OS X.  There are very few viruses for OS 9 and lower.  The risk is very low, but there still is a possibility that a virus could surface and could infect a Mac computer – someday.  But even more important, a Mac can be a virus carrier.  If a Mac receives an attachment with a virus, the virus cannot infect the Mac, but the Mac can infect other computers if the attachment is sent on to other PC users.  So, should you get antivirus software?  Well, you may not need it, but it is a good thing to have.   

Read this article on Mac viruses:

http://www.macworld.com/news/2004/02/18/virus/

 

Final Word:  The next time you have to renew your virus subscription, consider also upgrading to the newest version of your antivirus software.

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