It seems that more and more frequently we hear reports on the news about the latest "virus breakout". Both businesses and consumers experience loss of data and downtime. In fact, according to an FBI survey, major businesses lose $12 million annually dealing with virus incidents. Consumers can experience an even greater loss. Viruses can destroy precious photographs, emails and documents.
So what exactly is a computer virus? It is basically a computer program written to secretly sneak onto your computer and destroy your computer files. But it doesn't don't stop there! Viruses almost always self-replicate. This means that not only do they attack your computer, but actively seek to spread to other computers as well.
How do these malicious programs get on your computer? One of the most common ways viruses spread is through email. Many people don't think twice about opening files attached to email, but this is extremely dangerous. Email attachments can infect you as soon as you open them. File sharing programs and other media such as CD's and floppy disks are other mediums viruses use to propagate.
Computer viruses are obviously a major threat, but is there any way to protect against them? The answer is definitely yes! By following a few basic steps you can help ensure your computer remains virus free.
The first step is to install an antivirus program from a reputable company and keep it updated. Most antivirus programs can run in the background and scan all incoming emails and files automatically for you. You should also regularly run a full system scan to look for especially insidious viruses.
Next, never open any email attachments without making sure they are scanned first. Certain viruses will actually send email from an infected computer without the owner's knowledge. Your best friend may not intentionally send you a virus, but they could be infected and not even know it.
The last step is to never open or run any file on your computer without scanning it for viruses first. Programs, documents and even spreadsheets are just a few of the files viruses can attach to.
As time goes on, viruses will only become more complex and dangerous. Virus writers are always looking for new ways to infect computers and cause more damage. Fortunately, if you follow these basic rules, you can minimize or even eliminate suffering the potentially devastating effect of computer viruses.
If you do get a virus infection, consider calling a professional to ensure your data is properly preserved and your computer is restored to its pre-virus state. Professionals can make sure that further damage and loss is not incurred when you are removing the threat.
(Gary Napier is one of the technicians at Fas-Teks 423-517-TEKS (8357) www.computerrepairchattanooga.com.)