A virus is a computer program designed to propagate itself by travelling from file to file and from computer to computer, often destroying files in the process. Computer viruses spread by several means, including CDs, flash drives and zip disks, email attachments, web pages, and file-sharing. The best way to prevent viruses from infecting your computer files is to ensure that you have adequate virus protection software installed on your computer.
Malware is an abbreviation of ‘malicious software’. It encompasses software which is written with the express intention of gaining access to a machine without the user’s knowledge to either damage it, interfere with the user’s software and operating system or to gather sensitive, private information. There are various types of malware which include spyware, key loggers, viruses, worms and an ever-growing zoo of malicious code written to infiltrate computers.
- Open email attachments with caution
- Many viruses spread themselves via email, usually without the sender's knowledge. Some viruses automatically send themselves to addresses in the infected computer's address book or web browser cache; others attach themselves to legitimate outgoing messages.
- Many viruses forge the sender's name in an infected email, fooling the recipient into thinking that the mail message is valid and has been sent by a friend or colleague.
- If you receive an unexpected email attachment from a friend or colleague, ask the sender about the contents of the attachment before opening it, especially if the body of the message does not mention the attachment or contains no personal information.
- If you receive an unsolicited email attachment from an unknown email address, the safest course of action is to delete the message without opening the attachment.
- Never open an attachment where the filename contains multiple extensions (e.g., resume.doc.lnk) or a .vbs extension (e.g., LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs).
- Password protect all shared folders and files
Since some viruses are capable of infecting shared files across the network, you should:
- Never share any folder on your hard drive without protecting it with a password.
- Never save the password to your shared folder on another computer.
- Avoid sharing your entire hard drive; share only those specific folders which need to be accessible across the network.
- Keep your operating system up to date
No matter which operating system you run, you should always download all available security updates and other critical updates when prompted.
Find out more on updates for:
Since new viruses are constantly being discovered, both the anti-virus software package (McAfee Endpoint) and the virus definitions (the library of virus descriptions which Endpoint uses to recognise and remove viruses) must be kept up to date. This is done automatically from a central source on a daily basis or as soon as a new virus definition is released as a result of an outbreak.