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Frequently Asked Computer Security Questions

By Shelley Lowery

Working on the Internet provides Internet marketers with the opportunity to make a living in the comfort of their own home. However, as your business is completely reliant upon your computer, you must take the necessary steps to ensure your computer is safe.

Over the years, I have received many questions in regard to computer security. Below, are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question:I'm new to the Internet and have been hearing a lot about viruses. I'm not exactly sure what they are. Can you help?

Answer: A virus is a small piece of software that attaches itself to 'real' software programs (executable code). Each time you launch the real program, the virus is also
launched. The virus may then spread and attach itself to other programs and wreak havoc on your system.

The most widespread virus is an email virus. An email virus spreads through email attachments. It usually spreads by mailing itself to everyone within the email program's
address book. It tricks the email recipient into believing the message was sent from someone they know.

Although this type of virus rapidly spreads, you can't get it simply by reading a plain text email. However, you can execute the virus by clicking on an encoded message that
contains embedded executable code such as JavaScript within an HTML email message, or an executable file attachment.

Another type of program that is often thought of as a virus is a 'Trojan horse' program. However, it is not a virus. It is simply a computer program that acts like it's something
it's not. For example, you may download a program that you think is a computer game. However, when you run the program, it may delete files on your hard drive. Trojan horses cannot automatically replicate themselves.

Another widespread program is known as a worm. A worm is actually a small piece of software that travels through vulnerable computer networks with security holes. The worm scans the network in search of other computers with security holes. It copies itself to each system it finds.

Although viruses can infect any type of executable code such as EXE files or DOC files, most media files such as GIF, JPG, BMP, MP3, WAV, AVI, MOV and TXT files are generally

Although viruses can wreak havoc, computer virus hoaxes can also be damaging. Virus hoaxes may cause Internet users to begin to ignore all virus warnings. This can be harmful, as they are then left vulnerable to 'real' virus warnings.

In addition, many virus hoaxes also include a 'fix' that instructs the user to delete a certain file from their system. However, the file the hoax says is a virus is actually an important file needed by your computer.

Never follow the advice within an email 'virus alert' instructing you to remove a virus from your system without first verifying its validity.

Visit Symantec to search their virus encyclopedia:

You can also search McAfee's virus database here:

You can protect your computer by taking a few precautionary steps:

1) Purchase a quality virus protection software and keep it updated.



Please note, the above programs (especially Norton) have been known to cause problems with some operating systems. Although there isn't any particular pattern, caution should be exercised. I use McAfee online virus scan and haven't had any problems.

2) If you're using Microsoft programs, make sure that the "Macro Virus Protection" is enabled. Never run a macro within a document unless you know exactly what it does.

3) Never open an email attachment unless you're absolutely sure where it came from and what it is.

4) Avoid downloading software programs from sources you're not familiar with. If you do download a program, make sure you scan the file with your anti-virus software prior to installing.

Question: I've been hearing a lot about firewalls, but I'm not sure what it is or if I need it. Can you help?

Answer: A firewall is basically a software program that allows you full access to the internet and/or your network, while restricting access to your computer system from outside intrusions.

Internet users are extremely vulnerable to hackers, especially if you have cable or ADSL access to the Internet. You definitely need to protect your computer system. I recommend using a great program called Zone Alarm Pro .

Once you install a firewall, you'll be amazed at how many attempts to access your computer are blocked by your firewall.

Hackers can directly access your computer system by installing programs such as a key logger that can read every keystroke you make. This information is recorded and sent back to the hacker. Private information such as passwords and credit card numbers can easily be stolen.

A key logger is a small software program that quietly runs in the background. As these programs quite often run in DOS, you will most-likely never realize it's running. However, you can see if a key logger is running by pressing 'control' - 'alt' - 'delete' on your keyboard. This will launch a window that contains a list of all the programs currently running on your system. Review the list and watch for programs you don't recognize.

As there are many small programs such as adware (pop-windows) and spyware cookies that can bypass your anti-virus and firewall software, I recommend using a program called Pest Patrol . This program will detect and remove non-viral malicious software.

Although you can purchase Pest Patrol at the above site, you can receive a discount if you purchase it with Zone Alarm Pro . I can't guarantee how long this special offer will be available, so if you want it, now is a good time to get it.

If you really want to keep your computer safe, I recommend the following:

1) Purchase a good virus program and keep it updated
2) Purchase a good firewall program and keep it updated
3) Purchase a program like Pest Patrol and keep it updated

Taking the time to protect your computer is one of the best business decisions you'll ever make. If you don't protect it now, you'll definitely regret it later. It's just a matter of time.

Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2002.

About the Author:

Shelley Lowery is the author of Web Design Mastery - An in- depth guide to professional web design. And, Ebook Starter - A complete ebook design kit. Visit to sign up for a free subscription to Etips and receive a free copy of the highly acclaimed ebook, "Killer Internet Marketing Strategies."




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