Magazine article Technology & Learning

Protect Your Computer from Viruses. (in Service)

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Protect Your Computer from Viruses. (in Service)

Article excerpt

I received two computer viruses in my e-mail yesterday. I immediately recognized the first one: the subject was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," and the sender was "hahaha." I seem to receive this virus a couple of times each month, and simply delete the e-mail without opening it.

The other one, however, looked like a legitimate e-mail. It was from "Bob and Debbie," and did not list any attachments (see Glossary for definitions of highlighted words). The subject line was blank, but that is not unusual. Although I didn't recognize the names "Bob and Debbie," it easily could have been a teacher in my district (and his or her spouse).

So, I opened the e-mail.

My antivirus program immediately notified me that the e-mail contained the "W32.Badtrans.B@mm virus." It offered to try to clean the virus; it could not do so. It then quarantined the virus.

My computer was safe. Whew.

Why exactly was I so well protected? The reason is that I keep my virus definitions up to date. It's not that I'm bragging--the only reason I'm able to keep the virus definitions up to date is that my antivirus program is set for automatic live updates. As I work at my computer, the antivirus program is in the background, checking its Web site for updates. It downloads and installs them; all the while I carry on in blissful ignorance.

How bad would it have been if the W32.Badtrans.B@mm virus had been able to do its nefarious deeds? To find out I visited an antivirus Web site. It seems W32.Badtrans.B@mm is a worm that e-mails itself out using different file names. It also creates a file that enables it to log keystrokes on the infected computer. So, it could conceivably track my keystrokes (such as passwords) and e-mail them to the virus creator, who could then log onto my bank account ... you get the idea.

In addition to keeping your virus definitions updated, be very wary about opening e-mails from people you do not know, especially if they have attachments (which wouldn't have helped me with W32. …

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