Protecting Yourself Against Viruses

virusinfect.jpg Viruses are a constant and pervasive threat against computers connected to the Internet. If you have DSL or cable internet at home and your computer is turned on, you are connected to the internet -- even if you don't have a web browser open. That's why it's important to always be on guard against viruses that can destroy your data or make your computer unusable. Here are a few tips on keeping your system secure:

1. Always have an active and up-to-date antivirus program. It's not enough to install the program and forget about it -- you also must keep it up-to-date with the latest protections against the latest viruses. Commercial products like McAfee VirusScan and Norton AntiVirus require annual subscription fees to keep your updates current.

2. Run periodic scans of your system. Although your antivirus program should be actively protecting your computer, problems can sometimes slip through the cracks. It's a good idea to do a full system scan at least once a week.

3. Turn off your computer when you are not using it. While the computer is on and connected to the internet, it is vulnerable to viruses that scan the internet and look for computers with vulnerabilities. Turning it off before you go to bed or if you won't be using it for a while removes the possibility of a threat.

4. Back up your files on a regular basis.
If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with a back-up copy. You should store your backup in a separate location from your work files, on a CDR or hard disk that is preferably not on your computer.

5. Play it safe. Don't open any file attached to an email unless you know what it is, even if it appears to come from a friend or someone you know. Many viruses replicate themselves and spread through email.
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