Anti-Virus Software (May 1996)

Dear Dr. Geek:

What is a computer virus and how do I protect myself from them?

Trying to Stay Healthy

Dear TSH:

A computer virus is, simply put, a program that copies itself. They can only be contracted by sharing data between one computer and another.

Many viruses are harmless. For example, the world's most common virus, Form, causes a beep to sound on the 18th of every month, every time you press a key.

Jerusalem, another popular virus, causes more damage. On Friday the 13th, Jerusalem deletes all program files that you run that day.

Viruses such as Michelangelo, Dark Avenger, and Cheeba are significantly more brutal, and will require much work to repair the damage done. They may cause important system files to be corrupted or deleted, and may even wipe out your entire hard drive.

Viruses are the product of demented computer hackers that get their kicks from writing tricky, destructive programs. It is a sad commentary on the human race that we must protect ourselves from man-made viruses.

The only real protection from viruses is a good anti-virus program, such as Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus or McAffee's VirusScan, which you can find for under $100. These programs are updated monthly to prevent any new viruses from getting past the system. The programs are memory-resident, which means they are always running and will kill a virus before it ever does any damage.

The anti-virus software that comes with Windows 3.11 is much less effective, identifying viruses only after they have already done some damage.

I hope this helps, and Happy Computing!

If you have a computer related question for Dr. Geek, please mail it to:
The Tri-County News
PO Box 941
Wagener, SC 29164.

Letters are subject to Editor's approval and must be accompanied by your name and address.

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