How to prevent my computer from becoming infected?

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

    Taking defensive action is the best solution to protect your computer from the many thousands of viruses that loom in cyberspace. The following steps may not completely protect you from viruses, but they can significantly reduce your chances of being harmed by them.

  • Install antivirus software. No antivirus software is capable of protecting you from all viruses, but they act as a resourceful companion by helping you to scan incoming files and shared floppy disks and will keep you abreast of the latest viruses.
  • Note: To be best protected, make sure that you update your antivirus software on a monthly basis.
  • Use diligence with all disks. Always scan disks from unknown sources with your antivirus software, especially disks that are shared by several people.
  • Download with care. Download all files from disks or shared files on a network into a special folder on your hard drive and scan them with your antivirus software.
  • Scan attachments before reading them. Some email programs will automatically open an attachment with the appropriate program. Disable this function so that you can scan attachments before they are opened.
  • Be wary of attachments in emails from friends that you were not expecting. Many viruses will email themselves to everyone on someone’s address list, and include an innocuous sounding message like ‘check this out’ or ‘let me know what you think of this’. If a friend sends you an email that has an attachment, and the message isn’t personalized with your name and theirs, check with your friend to make sure that they were the one that actually sent you the message, rather than a virus on their computer that was masquerading as them.
  • Save shared files in RTF or ASCII format. Saving shared files in RTF or ASCII format will help prevent macro viruses, because neither format saves macro viruses.
  • WARNING! It is important to note that if you choose ASCII format to save your files, you will lose all of the formatting within the document. If formatting is important to you, stick to RTF.

  • Back it up! Back up everything in a safe place that is separate from your hard drive.
  • Do not use illegal or ‘pirated’ software on your machine. These software programs could be infected.
  • Use shareware with caution. Do not use shareware unless you are absolutely sure that the software is free of viruses.