By Jesse S. Somer
“Aaaaaahhhhhh! I’ve been invaded by a virus!” Getting virus means getting sick and no one in their right mind wants to be ill. Well, now that computers have become our close friends, it’s a shock to learn that foreign bodies too can invade them with malicious intent. No, your computer doesn’t get a runny nose or diarrhea. This is a sickness that stops your friend from functioning properly, sick in bed, incapacitated.
Well in Nature viruses occur from a power outside of our control. But, with computers it’s different, humans, mean or ignorant humans are creating these viruses. Why? Usually these are disgruntled people who want to wreak some havoc on others or companies that they feel have done wrong to them. In any case we have to be in the know and prepared to deal with these debilitating scourges.
There are many ways to approach the protection of your computer. First of all there’s the step of awareness. Be aware of how viruses are transmitted. You can catch them from a disc but in most cases it is through your email system. Check your email carefully. Be very wary of anything that has an attachment. Check whom it’s from and look at the title of the mail, is it something you were expecting? Even if it’s from someone you know, be careful as their computer could be infected and the virus being transmitted without their knowledge.
Next, read the cover message, you can’t catch the disease without actually opening the message. Look at the name of the attachment; remember viruses are written to entice you. Beware of free offers and generally anything from people you don’t know, as well as messages that sound irrelevant to your contact’s usual style. Delete them straight away. Delete, delete, delete. This will ensure you of a lower risk of infection. You can even send the message back to the sender without opening it to make sure it is valid.
Now for the heavy protection: Virus scanning and virus protection software, and rescue discs are all readily available and easily utilized. Some are free, and others are obtained for a very small charge. Most software manufacturers offer subscriptions for updating services, which automatically download protection to the latest viruses.
There are two main types of virus scanning software: one searches through your entire computer files looking for recognizable viral signatures, the other scans your incoming and outgoing emails. Alerts will show you when a file needs to be erased or repaired. If you do receive a virus that none of the software can repair you can send a copy of it to a company like Symantec who will be happy to develop a cure for it.
The main message here is not to get too worried about your good friend Mrs. PC getting ill or sick. The humans are on top of the case and they seem much better adapted at fixing their technology than they are at beating the viruses that attack our physical bodies. If only we could cure human virus and illness as easily as we solve the problem of computer sickness.
Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer is an analyst hoping to show fellow humans how far the computer age has come in terms of its strengths and weaknesses.