A computer virus is, by design, malignant and intended to kill all or
part of your computer system. No amount of TLC or chicken soup is going
to return your PC to a healthy state once a dreaded virus has been unleashed
upon the system.
Computer viruses are actual programs written by evil hackers who delight
in inflicting misery upon others. These are the same thoughtless heathen
who foul our countryside with graffiti, bully the weak, toss garbage out
of car windows and torture small animals.
If a PC bug is notorious and virulent enough to earn a name, such as
Michaelangelo, Dark Avenger or Mad Satan, the hackers are victorious and
wear this dubious distinction with honor.
Computer viruses are stealth and attach themselves to your files, remaining
dormant until activated by any number of everyday events or instructions
that are executed unwittingly by the user. Simply starting your PC on a
certain date or executing a simple command can trigger a systemic disease,
which can be immediately fatal or slow and insidious.
Viruses thrive and procreate through the sharing of programs, disks
or the downloading of files from the Internet and World Wide Web. The innocent
act of sharing files with a co-worker or downloading a graphic file from
the Web could start the deadly process in motion.
Death and destruction struck close to home recently when neighborhood
youths, eager to explore the wonders of the Web, downloaded games and graphics
to a brand new Compaq Presario. After the files were read, the virus-ravaged
computer refused to start again.
It was a nasty boot sector bug that masqueraded as a broken floppy drive,
but in fact had destroyed critical files necessary for startup. The hard
drive had to be re-formatted (erased) and all program files re-installed
from scratch. Everything was lost.
Your best defense against a potential computer virus is to inoculate
your system with a commercial anti-virus software package whose job it
is to detect and remove viruses before they do their damage. Good anti-virus
applications load automatically and are memory resident, running continually
in the background, monitoring your system for viruses.
Norton products by Symantec have a long-standing reputation for good
utility software and their Norton Anti-Virus 2.0 for Windows 95 is no exception.
This product has successfully protected my system from infections and runs
undetected in the background as it analyzes floppy disks, boot sectors,
all downloads and new programs.
Since new viruses are spawned daily, it's important to install a program
that offers quick and easy updates. Norton Anti-Virus offers LiveUpdate
with its software that enables users with a modem to log onto their FTP
site and obtain "signature files" of the latest known viruses.
Industry tests found that Norton 2.0 detected 100 percent of known and
"wild" viruses, but scored only 77 percent success in the removal viruses
from already infected systems. Norton was unable to heal the diseased Compaq,
but if the software had been installed from the start, the damaging virus
would never have penetrated the system.
VirusScan by McAfee is another popular anti-virus package that scores
93 percent on virus detection and 99 percent on removal. PC World magazine
rates Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit as "the clear leader in detecting
and removing just about any virus." Checkout the March '97 issue of PC
World magazine for a complete review and test results of nine anti-virus
software packages: http://www.pcworld.com/software/utility/
For a good knowledge base on viruses, visit the EliaShim Virus Center
site is actually marketing its own ViruSafe software, but additionally
offers comprehensive information and a searchable database of known viruses:
Most good anti-virus software packages are priced under $100 and well
worth the expense. Don't be lulled into the "it won't happen to me" mentality
just because you don't share files or download daily. If you have any online
connectivity at all, including e-mail, you're a potential target.
Love your PC, immunize today.