Keeping 2004 Computer-Virus-Free - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/24/03

Keeping 2004 Computer-Virus-Free

As last-minute shoppers pick up PCs for Christmas, the computer industry is expecting a good year when all the figures are tallied, with experts predicting nearly eight percent growth in sales over last year. If you find yourself with a new PC going into the New Year, there are some things you should know.

2003 was a crossover year for the computer virus, the worst on record according to virus watchdog F-Secure, with over 90,000 known infections currently active. Check out their report: F-Secure Corporation's Data Security Summary for 2003.

A few viruses had major local impact, like the Slammer worm that shut down Bank of America ATMs in January. And the trains of CSX Transportation we halted in their tracks by the Blaster worm. This in addition to plaguing home PCs, which would inexplicably restart. Only a week later, the So-Big email virus sowed up. It quickly became the worst email worm ever, sending over 300 million infected emails worldwide.

Two key elements to protecting your PC are (1) a firewall and (2) a virus scanner. The firewall basically controls internet traffic, so that there are no vulnerable "open doors" between your computer and the internet that virus writers can exploit. A virus scanning program will search your computer for known infections and disinfect them.

If you get a new PC this holiday season, you're starting with a clean slate. Ultimately, it's up to you to keep it clean. If you receive an email attachment you're not expecting, deleting it with opening is the best way to prevent getting any virus it may carry. Do not open the attachment. Follow the links below for:

Plain-language definitions of internet and computer terms:
http://www.webopedia.com/

The latest virus news/software from F-SECURE:
http://www.f-secure.com/

Free firewall software from Zone Labs:
http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp

Virus protection/disinfection software:
McAffee:
http://us.mcafee.com/default.asp

Symantec:
http://www.symantec.com/

Microsoft's Windows update site:
http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/

Microsoft's PC security hotline:
866-PC-SAFETY

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