What is Anti-virus software and why you need it?

What is Anti-virus software and why you need it?

1. What is Anti-virus software?
Anti-virus software is a program that either comes installed on your computer or that you purchase and install yourself. It helps protect your computer against most viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other unwanted programs that could make your computer or server unavailable and/or destroy your computer data. Viruses, worms, and malicious programs often do such things as delete files, access personal data, and or use your computer to attack other computers.

2. What are Computer Viruses?
A virus is a program or code that replicates itself or copies itself to other programs, computer boot sector or documents. Viruses can be transmitted to your computer as attachments in an e-mail or in a downloaded file, or be present on removable media such as floppy diskettes or CD’s. Viruses are usually downloaded by email, files sharing programs, diskettes or CD’s you’ve received without knowing that it contains a virus. Viruses can infect as soon as their code is executed; other viruses lie dormant until circumstances cause their code to be executed by the computer. Most viruses can be quite harmful, erasing data or causing your hard disk to require reformatting. A virus that replicates itself by re-sending itself as an e-mail attachment or as part of a network message is known as a worm. If your computer gets a virus, which starts spreading to other computers through email or over the network, it may be necessary to shut down your network connection until the virus has been removed from the infected computer resulting in a loss of productivity.

3. What is Trojan Horse Virus?
A Trojan Horse Virus is a program in which malicious or harmful code is contained inside apparently harmless programming or data in such a way that it can get control and do its chosen form of damage, such as corrupting the file allocation table on your hard disk. A Trojan horse may be widely redistributed as part of a computer virus to other networked computers.

4. What is Worm Virus?
A worm is a self-replicating virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself. Worms use parts of an operating system that are automatic and usually invisible to the user. It is common for worms to be noticed only when their uncontrolled replication consumes system resources, slowing or halting other tasks.

How do you get infected?

You may be infected if you or your employee ever:

1. Insert a floppy disk or CD (or Zip disk or any other removable.) in your computer.
2. Download software.
3. Install software.
4. Receive email.
5. Browse Web sites.
6. Share files or access other another computer.
7. Use any type of network you run the risk of infecting your computers with a virus.
8. Have employee’s who have access to the Internet. Computer users can inadvertently download and execute viruses through dowloading, files sharing programs or through personal or business e-mails..

Best Practices

Prevent viruses from infecting your system; install and regularly update your anti-virus software.

Most anti-virus software can be set up to automatically scan all processes of your computer and the activity on it. This includes, but is not limited to, the scanning of email (both incoming and outgoing), Web site temp files, downloaded files, removable media such as floppies, CDs, Zip disks, etc., and of course your hard drive.

New viruses are created almost daily, so it is imperative that your anti-virus software be updated regularly to counteract all new viruses. It is recommended to update every week, or more. This is especially true for users of Windows, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, the Web, and email. It is best to use well know anti-virus software which can regularly update itself if you have an Internet connection. It is recommended to run a scan of your entire hard drive or network share after you have updated your anti-virus software. Also it is best practice to set up your Anti-virus software to automatically scan you hard disk and network share, nightly, or at minimum twice a week.

It is especially important to run a scan before backing up your hard disks. You certainly would not want to backup a virus!

Are you protected with an online Anti-virus scan?

Not at All!! An online virus scanner is a tool to demonstrate why you need anti-virus software installed on your system. Because these free scanners do not run continuously on your system, they can only find the infection after the damage has been done.

Update, update, update!

Most Support Centers often receives calls from individuals who have anti-virus software on their system and who assumed that it been working. However, their virus update subscription had expired. It is important to understand that new viruses are discovered each week and your anti-virus software must be continuously updated to catch these new infections. Most new computers will ship with trial versions of anti-virus software that will update automatically for a period of three to six months. After that, you need to purchase a subscription to the updates on a yearly basis. Always check to see if your software is updating properly, open the program and look at the Virus Definition File date. If it is older than two weeks, then you have a problem. Try to manually update your Virus Definition Files to insure that your program is working properly.

Bob Hafemeister is the founder of Geeks On The Go Computer Service in Park Ridge, NJ

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