T Nation

How to Protect Yourself from Computer Viruses


I work at a help desk where I dealt with literally thousands of people who were infected with the Blaster Worm Virus. I've come to the realization that people are not protecting themselves from such a threat. So, I decided to give some steps on to do it. Since it's long, I'll post it on the first reply.


Step 1 - Run Anti-virus software

Ok, this sounds like a no-brainer. But, you'd be surprized how many people don't do this. The most popular prodcuts are Norton and McAfee. If you can't afford those, there are some free programs that would work, too (can anyone recommend one?)

Most important is that you keep your anti-virus software updated. You should check at least once a week for updates. Norton has an option to automatically update itself.

Step 2 - Keep Windows Updated

Click your Start button and look for "Windows Update." Go ahead and run it. This is something you should be doing on a regular basis. Better yet, set it to run automatically. The patch that protected users from the Blaster Worm was available in the middle of July - about a month beofre the virus came out.

Step 3 - Run a Firewall

A firewall blocks unathorized access to your computer. Using one will protect yourself from both hackers and viruses. If you run a high speed connection 24 hours a day, I would consider getting a router. Linksys makes a good one for about $50.

For those who don't want to put out the money for a router and dial-up users, I recommend Zone Alarm. This is a free software-based firewall. It will be a pain to use for about 2 days. It will ask you things like "Is it ok for Internet Explorer to Access the Internet?" You'll click the box that tells Zone Alarm to remember your choice and you would then choose "yes." It will ask you questions like this for any outgoing and incomming connections from your computer to the internet. Once you start running it, don't get freaked out when you see that it's blocking users from accessing your computer. That's a common occurance, usually someone just "sniffing" around, looking for people who aren't protected. You can download Zone Alarm at http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/catalog/products/sku_list_za.jsp?lid=pdb_za1 Pick the free version that's on the left.


Some other tips

  1. Keep in mind that they is no way to completely protect yourself from all viruses.

  2. So, if you have anything important on your computer, back it up. In a worst cases scenario where you ended up having to reinstall Windows, you'll have your important files. Burning them to CD's is the easiest way.

  3. Don't open up email attachments with an ".exe" extension, unless the person sending it ot you explains what the file is. Along the same lines, if for some reason you send a .exe file to someone else, explain exactly what it is.

  4. Please ignore forwarded emails that tell you to search for a file on your computer and to delete it, because it is a virus. This is a hoax and you are deleteing a file that you need.

  5. Resources - If you ever have a concern about viruses, check

Microsoft Knowledge Base http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;[ln];kbhowto

Norton http://norton.com/

McAfee http://us.mcafee.com/default.asp

Snopes http://snopes.com/computer/virus/virus.htm (good place to find out about virus hoaxes.)


90% of protecting yourself from viruses is ATTITUDE. Oh, wrong thread.

Jeff, thanks for the tips!


Great advice, but you forgot my favorite - get a Mac GRIN

If you get freaked out by the virus warnings that end up in your mailbox, you can go to the McAfee site and serach for information on it. There are also many sites that list the hoax viruses and what exactly what you would be doing to your computer if you DID follow the directions. The worst part is, some of the hoax emails tell you to delete essential files that allow your OS to function, and then you may lose a lot of stuff.


So jeff is a member of the dilbert community?

Honestly with a firewall you almost dont even need an antivirus, but since those are cheap anyway why not.

And why on earth people open random spam type emails with file attachments I do not know.
My mother in law does that, and she inevitably gets hammered about every 6 months with a virus that eats her computer. Usually causes it to cease functioning to the point she has to have it wiped and reinstalled.

My wife did it once, luckily it was a weak virus that didnt do much, but she wont do it again, especially since we have business info on our comps and losing that would really suxor with having to re-enter/re-create it all.

Kids computer I have blocked a lot of access with the router. It has very limited web access and no downloads without going through my admin account.


According to F-Secure, the fun part of the sobig virus is just about to start. 3pm EST, 1pm MST.

A potentially massive Internet attack starts today


tme - seems to be the case. This is really getting in the way of my porn junk mail!



I've not been able to use my computer for almost(or is it over?) a week now. Goddamn motherfucking bugs... Better now but still craps out for some goddamn reason. fume


Antiliberal, a firewall would have stopped the Blaster Worm. But I've got plenty of viruses on my computer that Zone Alarm didn't stop, but Norton did. I highly recommend anti-virus software.



I'm with Michelle - get a Mac. You will have about 1/100th of the problems that you do with Wintel machines.


Jeff, talking hardware firewalls with routers. Using one of those mixed with never opening email attachments that are suspect would probably eliminate about 99.999% chance of virus?

Antivirus I see as being useful if you want to start opening some of those emails more often. I guess I just really hate spam so I never open almost any mass messaged emails.

Dilbert, you know, cubicles and all that? Or dont you have cubes at your work? I worked in a cube farm myself, had several hundred cubes all lined up.


Antiliberal, i know nothing of these "cubicles" you speak of! :D)

OK, this was a picture taken from when I used to be a customer service rep. At my current job, I don't work in a cube. They instead lock me in a dark room where I can answer the phone and surf the net!

Yes, a hardware-based firewall would be better than a software based one. How mcuh it protects you depends on what you do. I have gotten viruses from using filesharing programs. Also, there are many viruses that are embedded in an email that you can get without having to open an attachment.


I was kind of forced to try the PC-Cillin anti-virus program that came with my new board.

Interesting surprise: It had an integrated firewall in it. Probably not the best in the west, but just by having one you are better protected than 95%+ of people out there.

A good way to test your ports is at www.grc.com and go to the Probe my ports section (completely revamped, with many sub-tests). You could be surprised.

`Nuff said! =0)


Let's see... how many rampant viruses affect OSX or Linux? Hrm, 0? Why add supplements to your sucky diet and training before you get the basics down?


Can I run all my games on Linux???

I have nothing again the penguin. Linux is great to use on a server or even a workstation in a business environment. However, I don't think it's practical for the home user. People are usually familiar with Windows, and there is a limted amount of software that you can run on Linux (yes it's growing!)

And people using WIndows = job security for me! :D)


And your objections to a Mac would be... What?


Ok, char-dawg you got me. I am not familiar with Macs, do I couldn't give you an answer. The last time i used one was about 10 years ago.


Jeff: Not that I'm saying you should switch to Linux (do whatever the hell you want), but there's way, way more software available for Linux than Windows. Not the shiny boxes in your local computer store perhaps, but still.

Sorry, it just bugs the hell out of me when people say that, since it's actually quite the opposite.


Dave, I am pro-Linux.

However, there are many games that are not available on Linux. As well as some of the more popular progrmas.

It's interesting that AOL wanted to buy Red Hat and make a home OS to compete with Windows. That would be fun to see!

Anyone use Lindows?