A Virus Can Ruin Your Day.

Let me preface with the statement that I do not use nor like Anti-Virus software. I believe that it creates a false sense of security. It encourages you to avoid recognizing the problem, looking for a machine solution. It's based upon response, not recognition beforehand. And it requires frequent updates to be at all effective. But I acknowledge that you don't want to be as big a geek as me. ;-^) You just want a little more information.

So, what is a virus? It comes in many forms: trojan, worm, but a good idea comes from the words, "hostile code". In other words, bad people trying to do bad things, via your rig. Read some history here.

If you want to start with the Absolute Ultimate Source and Last Word, click here. Personally, I think it's easier to start with the basics.

My first tip: recognize that social engineering is 90% of a successful virus. Less than 10% of the work is in the coding. If you can 'immunize' yourself to avoid temptation, you are close to winning the battle.

My second tip: use a browser and email client that is up to date. Some are inherently safer, because fewer people use them. If you use the most popular software from Microsoft, then keep it patched. Check frequently or Subscribe Here to their security newsletter.

Make Sure That Your 'View' Settings Are Right.

File with dangerous extensions should not be run casually. They can easily modify your computer. So an email might have an attachment named ReadMe.TXT.exe, which is really a program and probably a virus. Yet the default view would only show you ReadMe.TXT as the name, which might encourage you to drop your guard and click on it. We want you to be able to see the full name.

  • All Windows versions are default configured to prevent you from seeing the warning signs of danger.
  • Open Windows Explorer or My Computer. From the 'File-Edit-View...' line, select <Tools>. Then select <Folder Options>. Next select the View tab.
  • Make sure under 'Hidden Files' you can 'See All Files' and that you uncheck 'Hide File Extensions for Known File Types'.
Dangerous File Extensions

Get help doing this if you need it, but do it. A service call from a professional could save you losing all your data.

Almost All 'Virus Warnings' Are a HOAX.

  • Yep, those so-called helpful hints are in fact a benign type of virus known as The HOAX.
  • The author's intent is to see how fast it will sweep the net. Sometimes they are part of an address harvesting scheme for spammers. Notice how they say to forward to everyone you know?
  • The emails end up clogging mailservers, consuming unnecessary resources and costing everyone money.
  • Further, spammers love emails with many valid addresses in them. Guess why?
  • Therefore, NEVER forward a virus alert!
Hoax Email Warning Signs

Send to everyone you know.
Immediate action needed.
Promises dire consequences.
Too good to be true.

For the ultimate look at hoaxes, check out the Gullibility Virus Warning Email.

Never Trust ANY ATTACHMENT in an email.

Be careful when you DOWNLOAD A PROGRAM from a website.

Don't let someone SOCIAL ENGINEER you.


Emails with infected attachments may contain psychological tricks to manipulate users to open infected files.

Since it's an email, you can take a shortcut and click on the link, right? WRONG ! You will send your email address when you do that.

Individuals who create viruses use what they know of human nature to create emails with tricks or attachments that many people will find difficult to resist opening.

Attachments may have names that contain a provocative phrase such as PamelaAnderson.JPG.scr or YourReceipt.TXT.exe describing a fake purchase you made online.

Some of the most successful ploys have to do with gambling. NEVER visit a site directly from an unsolicited commercial email unless you really want lots more email. NEVER use a <Click Here to Remove> or reply in any way to such email.

Some emails may claim that you should protect your computer from a virus by clicking on a file. They may also contain messages such as "I am in love with you, signed your secret admirer, p.s. open this attached photo to see a picture of me." The picture is typically in the format PICTURE.JPG.exe or some other dangerous extension.

Some viruses even attempt to get you to do the work for them by looking like a notification from someone you know or from Microsoft, indicating that your computer is infected with a virus. To fix it you should delete a Windows file, which is of course a legitimate file. Always check these out with Google or your favorite AV site before following this kind of advice.

Summary: always check out anything appealing before clicking.

©2002 WesterNet