Virus Prevention

Preventions you can use internet security and anti-virus software to try to prevent viral infections.

Not all software is created equal.  The free solutions that many people use are far from perfect.  Since the companies that give them away also sell “professional” versions, it stands to reason that the free ones are inferior.  My advice is, pay for a good one.  Even among those that cost money, there is a vast difference.  Some may do a good job, but they cause problems on your computer themselves.  Others may not work as well as advertised.  Don’t count on a shop clerk’s advice, either. He is mostly interested in making a sale.  If you bought a new computer there, oftimes it includes at least a trial subscription to something.  The sales clerk will often tell you that software is no good, and sell you something that is no better.  Nothing beats having trustworthy information. Of course, new viruses hit us every day, so keeping your software updated is a must.

Cure If you are infected with something bad, it is not the end of the world.  Most viruses and other malware can be removed, although some are harder than others to take out.  In the worst possible cases, the fastest (and cheapest) way to become clean again is to do a full system restore back to original factory condition, and reinstall your software and data from there.  This is a big job, however, and if you do not have a good backup strategy in place, you may find yourself at risk of data loss.  You may want to have something done to protect your data before you begin any operation to remove a bad infection.  Writers of viruses are not stupid, and often have hidden clever ways to get you reinfected even after a removal operation.  It is good to have knowledgeable people who can help you find the best and most cost effective solution.

What is a Virus?

Computer terms are often taken from the non-computer worlds of science and experience, using terms that become metaphors for something happening in the computer world.

In the real world, a virus is a snippet of life that only has life if it joins itself to a healthy cell.  Once inside, it takes over the cell, performs whatever damaging function it does by nature, and uses the cell to replicate itself so it can invade other cells.  A computer virus is a program, usually small, designed to find a home inside your software, sometimes appended to healthy, existing files, sometimes joining the operating system in some way.

What it is there to do is entirely decided by the programmer who wrote it.  Since it would be quite inefficient to have to hack into each computer in the world and try to place the little malicious code there, virus writers program the little bug to replicate itself, passing itself on through various means – emails, messages, attachments, and more.  In addition to the trouble the designer intended to cause, often the virus does other, collateral damage.  This can happen because, unlike commercial software companies, these people have no research and development budget.  They do not have a place to be contacted so they can be informed that their virus is causing problems, and needs to be upgraded.  They simply do not care.  It is in their interest to remain secret in most cases.  Nevertheless, they couldn’t care less if your system is destroyed by the many accidental bad things they cause.  They are criminals, motivated by profit (although some are vandals, just having fun like juvenile delinquents painting graffiti on a water tower).  Other related terms are malware, spyware, adware, trojans, worms and other names each having some distinct meaning of their own, and are so-called because these terms describe what they do or how they propagate.