Computer Viruses Don’t Take A Vacation

With summer officially starting tomorrow and many users finding themselves with more time to e-mail friends or surf the Internet, the threat of computer viruses will also be increasing. Virus writers have traditionally been particularly active during the summer months as demonstrated last year by two of the most disruptive viruses ever created: Code Red and Sircam. According to The Computer Economics Security Review 2002, their combined impact has been calculated at $3.77 million dollars in losses to users and businesses around the world.

With this in mind, all users are once again reminded to pay particular attention to the following basic security measures:

Use a reliable antivirus. For an antivirus to be capable of offering effective protection, it must include:

– Updates. It is vital that an antivirus is equipped with the latest inoculation files to neutralize viruses. And an antivirus must update daily to detect and disinfect the newest threats.

– Permanent technical support, rapid response to new viruses, and a virus alert service.

Check e-mails received before opening. Although viruses use a variety of infection methods, e-mail is still the most common. As e-mail may contain a virus, regardless of whether the message contains an attachment symbol, it is extremely important to take precautions when receiving messages.

Avoid downloading programs from unsafe Internet sites. Many Internet sites allow users to download programs and files that could be infected with viruses. For this reason, downloads from sites that don’t offer guarantees should be avoided. As a general rule, secure sites are those that provide clear information regarding their products and services or those backed by reputable organizations (publishers, official bodies, etc.) Moreover, scanning anything downloaded from the Internet with an antivirus is a good idea.

Reject unsolicited files in chats or newsgroups as these could contain viruses or other malicious code.

Keep your operating system and other applications updated. In order to spread as rapidly as possible, latest generation viruses frequently exploit software vulnerabilities and other security problems in applications and operating systems. For this reason it is important to install security “patches” released by software companies to correct these vulnerabilities.

Stay up-to-date with the latest security issues. Read the latest security news and visit portals that deal with IT security. Users should also subscribe to security bulletins like Panda Software’s Oxygen3 24h-365d, which keep readers informed of the very latest issues.

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