What can I do to prevent virus infection of my computer:

  • Insure that the machine's boot order has C: first
    Most people don't use diskettes to pass data any more. As a result, no one ever looks in the disk drive to insure that there's no diskette left from an earlier use. Changing the Setup parameters so that your machine boots from the C: drive instead of the diskette drive will protect you against accidental boot virus infections and help boot sector viruses become extinct. It also speeds up your daily boot process as the machine no longer clunks and checks the diskette drive for a diskette that's generally not there.
  • Write-Protect NORMAL.DOT
    Macro viruses account for 80-90% or more of all virus problems today. And Word macro viruses are the most prevalent form of macro viruses. The majority of Word macro viruses attack by infecting the NORMAL.DOT file. By making NORMAL.DOT into a read-only file, it helps you notice attempts to write to it. It also allows you to start Word the next day in an uninfected environment. And generally slows down viral spread.
    This doesn't prevent macro viruses. But it makes for less of a problem when you encounter one.
  • Turn on Macro Virus Protection in Office
    If you don't use macros for your benefit, why let macro virus writers use them? Programs in the Microsoft Office Suite have an option under Tools/General call Macro Virus Protection. By enabling it, each product will warn you if there are any macros in an incoming document or spreadsheet. If you're not expecting any macros, don't let them run.
  • Patience on those free downloads
    There are many useful programs and tools on the Internet, available for the price of a download. But some may not be what you want. And worse, some may be things you don't want! So, how do you go about doing this Internet shopping for free software?
    First, find a place that has programs AND a place to discuss them. Discuss your requirements. Some helpful souls will point you to programs which might meet your needs. Meanwhile, others will be participating and discussing the virtues and drawbacks of the product that has been suggested. When you have a chance to download the executable, do so. But put it in a safe place.
    Wait 3 days, or a week. If no one complains about the package, and the more you hear about it, the more it seems to fit your needs, try it. Just remember, *you* don't have to be the guinea pig.
  • Don't double-click attachments!
    Download and save those attachments. Scan them, or have your on-access scanner scan them during the download process. Then invoke the appropriate software to look at those files. Once on disk, this process works quite fast. But if you're always reading this stuff through the email server, it's slow and you'll just have to do it again, later.>
  • Change your AUTOEXEC.BAT
    Change your C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT file to the following single line:
    If any viruses or trojans add to or replace your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, it will be easy to notice. And if it adds to the end of the file, the code will not execute.
    Rename C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT to C:\AUTO.BAT.
  • Distribute only .RTF files (rather than DOCs)
    What's more embarrassing than being hit by a virus? Having someone else tell you! When you send someone an infected file, you are admitting to the world that your security measures are inadequate and you chance infecting and/or damaging the recipient's system(s). Not something you want attached to your reputation.
    Rich Text Format (.RTF) files do not support macros. Before you send someone that document you've been working on, save it as a Rich Text Format file. Send the RTF file instead. (Generally, it's a smaller file. And everyone likes smaller files.)
  • Your machine is your machine!
    A common method of introducing a virus into a corporation is through work brought in from home. Often, machines at home are shared with others at home. And the worst culprits of acquiring viruses happen to be school age children who share programs from friends or the internet.
  • Backups are really nice
    Backups won't prevent viruses. But if one ever hits you, the value of backups is immeasurable.
    But most of all, backups provide peace of mind. Antivirus software provides peace of mind. You can never have enough peace of mind.
  • Keep your software current
    With antivirus software, people are accustomed to hearing, "Update, update, update!" But even Microsoft Office has updates, each of which improves the level of security. Office97 introduced the macro virus protection referenced above. Office97 itself has updates, SR1 and SR2, which disable certain methods of macro virus spread. And Office 2000 has security levels, which unless you are a macro expert, should be set to High.
    If you use mIRC, be sure to use the latest version. Internet Relay Chat sessions are now one of the most popular ways to spread viruses. The current versions organize its files to lessen the ability of someone to transmit a virus to you. The best thing to do however is, never accept a file named SCRIPT.INI.