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Table of Contents

What is a computer virus ?

What kind of files can spread viruses?

What is spyware and how do I know if I have it ?

What are the benefits of a web site ?

What is a driver and where can I download them?

Is my antivirus program really protecting me?

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a program designed to spread itself by first infecting executable files or the system areas of hard and floppy disks and then making copies of itself.  Viruses usually operate without the knowledge or desire of the computer user.

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What kind of files can spread viruses?

Viruses have the potential to infect any type of executable code, not just the files that are commonly called 'program files'.  For example, some viruses infect executable code in the boot sector of floppy disks or in system areas of hard drives.  Another type of virus, known as a 'macro' virus, can infect word processing and spreadsheet documents that use macros.  And it's possible for HTML documents containing JavaScript or other types of executable code to spread viruses or other malicious code.

Since virus code must be executed to have any effect, files that the computer treats as pure data are safe.  This includes graphics and sound files such as .gif, .jpg, .mp3, .wav, etc., as well as plain text in .txt files.  For example, just viewing picture files won't infect your computer with a virus. The virus code has to be in a form, such as an .exe program file or a Word .doc file, that the computer will actually try to execute.

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What is spyware and how do I know if I have it ?

Spyware programs are deeply-rooted applications that embed themselves into your system with the intent of tracking your online activity, stealing your personal information, or exposing you to increased advertising. Categories of spyware include Trojans, system monitors, adware and dialers.

Spyware is most frequently installed as the result of a "drive-by" download, through which the spyware piggybacks on a seemingly harmless application intended for sharing music or pictures, or offering other "fun" and usually free utilities like customizable cursors or e-wallets. By unscrupulously burying consent deep in a license agreement, many spyware programs are "legally" installed.

Because spyware is not viral, and generally installs only with consent, anti-virus software does not offer adequate protection. By attaching itself to legitimate downloads, spyware easily bypasses firewall protection.

Five signs that your computer may be infected with spyware:

1. Popup windows
2. Frequent computer crashes
3. Strange hard drive/modem behavior
4. Unusually slow computer and/or Internet connection
5. Stolen credit card numbers, identity theft, or phone charges to 1-900 numbers

Even if you notice none of these signs, Spyware is probably present on your computer.  It often sits idle on your computer, waiting for a preset time to strike you or other computers on the Internet.

What you can do about it:

Select a Program to Scan Your Computer for Spyware.
We've identified and tested dozens of Spyware Removers and come up with a short list of the best that will scan your PC for free and remove all spyware/adware/malware in minutes.

Avoid freely downloading "freeware" and "shareware".
These are leading sources of spyware infections.

Delete spam from your e-mail.
Spyware is increasingly spread through e-mail just like other viruses.

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What are the benefits of a web site?

If you are located in a rural or remote area, your website is the quickest and easiest way to convince buyers it is worth the drive.

Anyone in the world can see it 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. It doesn't matter if you are awake, asleep, at work, sick, or on vacation.

You can afford to advertise in more places because once you create or purchase a banner ad it can be reused at several locations to point buyers to your website for details.

  Most newspaper classifieds are online. When you include your website name in your ad, a viewer can probably go there with a single mouse click. Many who are not actively looking for product will do that because it is so easy.

Casual viewers of your site can easily send its link to friends or relatives they know ARE looking for this kind of product. It takes only seconds and costs them nothing.

You will be astonished at where visitors to your site come from.  You won't waste time on lengthy phone calls, saying the same things over and over.  A buyer may think of questions he should have asked on his first call, with a web site available, he can return as often as he likes; without disturbing you. 

 You can let your web site "speak" for you.  You can add/edit/delete the content of your website as often as you like.

You can compile a mailing list from business reply cards, customer information sheets, business cards collected at trade shows, or membership lists.

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What is a driver and where can I download them?

A driver is a program that controls a device. Every device, whether it is a printer, disk drive, or keyboard, it must have a driver program. Many drivers such as the keyboard driver, CD-ROM driver, or hard drive drivers come with the operating system. For other devices such as the video or soundcard, you may need to load a new driver or drivers when you connect the device to your computer.  Below is a list of download sites.

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Is my antivirus program really protecting me?

Maybe.  And then again, maybe not! 

One of the things I personally have always pondered is a notice in virtually every antivirus program on the market that recommends you have one and ONLY one antivirus program on your system.   Naturally, I figured it must have something to do with conflicts or performance issues.  In light of a recent experience, I am not so certain. 

Like many of you, I have the latest and greatest protection available from the “world leader in internet security.”  It automatically updates itself and scans every file I access on my system.  It even scans every message that comes in or goes out.  What more could a user possible want?  Well, not being one to always follow recommendations, I also run another much lesser known antivirus program on my primary system.  I personally have always felt you can never be too cautious. 

Very recently, this made for a very interesting scenario.  As I said, this well known software (yes I am purposely not mentioning names), is always on guard and automatically updates itself with the very latest virus definitions.  In fact, I had all but forgotten my backup program because this one catches everything…well almost anyway.  Much to my surprise, one day last week I saw the all to familiar “Virus Detected – Cannot Repair” warning.  But wait, it wasn’t the world leader that caught it. My initial reaction was ‘Hey this is unusual.’  Figuring this was a really good time to do a complete system scan, I made sure my primary antivirus definitions were in fact the latest and greatest, and started a full system scan.  What happened next, really surprised me. 

Everything was running smoothly for about the first half hour.  Then I got the familiar “Virus Detected – Cannot Repair” warning.  But wait, a minute, it again wasn’t the ‘world leader’ that detected it.  My backup program detected it when the first one accessed the file to scan it.   Hmmm.  Now my curiosity was really peaked.  I then disabled my backup program and scanned the file again…no virus detected.  But, after enabling my backup once again, the virus was yet again detected.  

Being the pessimist I am, I then scanned the file using yet another ‘name brand’ antivirus program…yep, it’s infected.  Lastly, I used one of those ‘on-line’ virus scanners…same result, infected.  With the odds now at 3 to 1, one can only assume my “world leader” had missed the boat.  Was it a fluke?  I don’t know.  Am I going to continue running a backup scanner?  You betcha!

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