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Antivirus Prevention: Keeping Computers Free From A Virus

New computer viruses are being created everyday by cyber criminals who are working hard towards achieving their aim. Eugene Kaspersky, a computer security researcher, reported in an article in Security News of November, 2005 that his lab receives 200 to 300 new samples of viruses and Trojans everyday. This shows the enormity of the problem.

The viruses infecting a computer are of many types just like their human counterpart. Some are benign and some others absolutely fatal; a few of them quietly damage the system like termites without the user even being aware of its presence until the damage assumes enormous proportions. The treatment of computer viruses also has human analogy which is prevention and cure.

Preventing the virus from entering a computer can be achieved by following a cautious approach to any new programs, files, e-books etc. that are loaded on to the system. They may be copied through floppies, CDs etc. manually or may be downloaded online from another system or the internet. They should be scanned first with antivirus software before being copied or opened. The right click option of most antivirus software makes it easy to scan any suspicious file or program. “Scan it first” should be the general rule.

Firewalls can filter out or warn potential virus threats but they can not completely eliminate them because viruses can be hidden in several ways in data as well as in programs to escape from firewalls detection. Prevention is better than cure, so goes a saying. But it may not always be possible to prevent all types of virus threats and eliminating the virus that has surreptiously entered the system will have to be resorted to sooner or later.

In order to mitigate the damage from possible virus attacks, backing up of important files containing data or programs or both should be carried out periodically. This could be done by burning CDs or stored in removable hard disk. The programs and data could be stored in separate drives like C and D drives, with the latter allocated larger space than the former. All important information like proof of purchase of software, software registration, setup info, activation codes etc. should be stored in a file in D drive. Most of the virus infections are likely to happen in the programs part of C drive. Hence it should be scanned daily for potential viruses. The larger D drive could be scanned on fortnightly or monthly basis.

Good antivirus software is a must to detect viruses and quarantine or eliminate them. There is a wide variety of antivirus programs available in the market and the following is a quick guide to finding the good ones.

1. The antivirus software must be able to give both passive and online protection. Passive protection provides service on demand like when scanning specific drives or files to detect possible virus infection. Online or active protection is a memory resident antivirus program that continuously looks for probable incoming virus threats.

2. Independent testing agencies like Checkmark, PC World, AV test.org etc. give out periodical recommendations on anti virus software available in the market. They could be consulted before selecting a particular software package. Anti Trojan forum rates anti Trojan software periodically; this provides a good idea about the quality of the software. More than one antivirus or anti Trojan software would be required in order to protect from all possible threats.

3. The anti virus software should be constantly updated in order to keep newly emerging viruses at bay. There is an ongoing battle between creators of viruses and antivirus software developers. New patches are made available within hours of detection of a new virus by antivirus software developers and are updated online to all customers. Hence antivirus programs can become obsolete very quickly if not updated in time.

Many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and email service providers offer server side protection against spams and viruses. They should be preferred in order have an additional layer of protection.

To conclude, in order to protect from viruses the computer user must have good anti virus software that is constantly updated, follow safe practices and he / she must always be alert any new developments as the battle is an ongoing and continuous one.

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