While computers are designed to be easy to use this
ease of use comes with security problems that hackers can take advantage
of oftentimes with relatively little work on their part. We
do our best to scan for viruses on emails coming through our server,
but this is only one component of keeping
viruses out of your computer. Regardless of whether you are using Windows 98, Windows
2000, Windows XP, Macintosh OS8, Macintosh OS9, or Macintosh OSX your
computer can still be infected with viruses. Most viruses today are designed to work on a
number of different operating systems, email / web browsers, and
other environmental variables (such as various versions of a certain
operating system or varying versions of a particular email program).
Recently virus "manufacturers" have been writing viruses
in Visual Basic Scripts predominantly targeting Windows and other
Microsoft products. These viruses can also work on a Macintosh if the user is
using a Macintosh version of a Microsoft program (such as Outlook
Express or Internet Explorer). Scripts from web pages and emails, by
default, are not meant for destructive purposes and are generally used
to give web page designers more programming freedom.
Another common type of script is created with a more advanced programming
language called Java. You probably have heard of this if you are a
prolific web browser. Java is how web designers create unique effects like roll-overs (when you move
your mouse over a picture and the picture changes) and other graphical
An easy way to prevent these malicious scripts from running (while at the
same time allow non-destructive scripts) is to simply
disable any type of script activation in your browser. This is not an
easy option to find - but your browser's help file will be
able to point you in the right direction.
Another easy way to stop
destructive scripts (and usually allow the good scripts to run) is to use a
virus checking program such as the new 2003 version of Norton
Anti-Virus. A virus program, among other things, "watches" web pages and
notifies you when it finds scripts that
could potentially be harmful to your machine. You will usually want to
stop the script from running, although if you are certain that the
script in question is not malicious you can simply let it run anyway.
The second way to get viruses on
your computer is through email. However just simply getting emails is
not the only way your computer can be infected with a virus. Even if
you never open strange or suspicious emails and only read
messages from people you trust, you can still get viruses.
Computers that are used to send you email can be infected
just as easily as your own computer. This is more and more common
nowadays because viruses are becoming more difficult catch and prevent
before they run their course. The first and best way to stop a virus
is to acquire a good virus protection program that not only
scans your machine's files for viruses but also has an email scanner
and script scanner, if possible. We recommend using either Norton
Anti-Virus which can be downloaded here
or McAfee which you can download here.
These are just two virus prevention companies - many, many others are also
available, some for free, some for a small share-ware fee, and some
are full-on programs you can buy at most computer software stores.
However, simply having the virus scanner, while definitely a good first
step, is not the entire solution. Probably most important
consideration is to keep the virus signature or virus protection file
updated regularly and to run a complete system scan on your machine at
least once a week for viruses. Recently Norton and McAfee have started
charging a small fee to use their virus signature update services;
quite frankly the price is worth it to keep viruses from contaminating your
computer and possibly your friends and family's computers. Think of the virus protection software as
a valuable insurance for you and
your computer's data.
Last but not least, if in the event you do find out
that you have a virus or even think that you might have a virus (Example:
strange characters show up in emails you write or people get emails
from you that you did not send them) do not send emails to anyone and if you have not updated your
virus protection files recently, run a full system scan on
your computer. You should also scan any floppy disks you have recently
used or that have come in contact with other computers. If you are
on any sort of network with other computers scan any files you have
sent or received to or from those computers as well.