Computer Viruses For Dummies
To protect your computer and personal information from viruses, learn how to configure your antivirus software, practice some basic rules for securely operating your computer, and know how to scan your computer for viruses. If you find a virus, follow some basic steps to rid your computer of the sneaky culprit.
Configuring Your Antivirus Software
Properly configuring your antivirus software now can make your life easier and less stressful down the line. To protect your computer from viruses, apply the following configuration settings in your antivirus software program:
Whole-computer scan scheduled at least once weekly.
Virus signature update scheduled at least once daily.
Real-time virus detection turned on.
Heuristic virus detection turned on.
E-mail message scanning — inbound and outbound — turned on.
Tips for Safely Operating Your Computer
Antivirus software, when properly configured and maintained, is an important factor in protecting your computer and your information — but it can't do it all. Practice the following procedures when operating your home computer to minimize the risk of computer viruses, worms, and even spam:
Never open e-mail messages from people you do not know.
Never open attachments in unexpected or strange messages from people you don't know (or do know).
Install security patches when they are available.
Turn on Automatic Updates so that you can learn of new security patches when they become available.
Regularly back up your important data.
Use secure Web browser settings.
Download files only from trusted and well-known sites.
Use alternate e-mail accounts for higher-risk activities like mailing
lists and Web site registrations.
Disconnect your computer from the Internet when you are not using it.
Password-protect and use your screen saver if you work where others have access to your computer.
Filter annoying and harmful e-mail with a spam filtering program.
Block worms and Trojan horses with a hardware or software firewall.
Block spyware and other potentially harmful software with a spyware filtering program.
Don't go to Web sites you've never heard of before.
How to Scan for Computer Viruses
Your computer consists of thousands of files, and your antivirus software is meticulous when it comes to examining everything. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to tell your antivirus software to do this. Follow these steps to scan your entire computer for viruses:
Double-click or right-click the Antivirus System Tray icon; navigate to scan, and go!
In Windows Explorer, right-click a file or directory and select Scan.
To be certain your computer is virus-free you need to regularly run the following antivirus chores:
Check every day to make sure your antivirus program is running by checking the system tray for the antivirus program icon.
Scan your entire computer weekly for viruses, and confirm that the scan has completed. Check the status to see if any infected files were found. If you're running scans automatically, check to make sure it actually ran.
Make sure that your virus signature files have been updated.
Steps for Handling a Computer Virus
If you perform a virus scan on your computer and the scan locates a virus that crept in and camped out on a file somewhere, you've got a "situation" on your hands. What next? Follow these steps to deal with a computer virus:
Read the alert carefully to see if the virus has been removed. Note the name of the file and the name of the virus. Go to your antivirus company's Web site for more information.
See if a virus removal tool or other procedure is necessary to completely clean your computer.
Update your virus signature files right away.
Scan your entire computer for viruses.
Computer Security Information Resources
If you're looking for information about the latest tools, updates, and virus scans for your computer to boost security and protect your personal information, try the following websites for help: