What is a computer virus?
A computer virus is a computer program that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.
As you have probably heard on the news or seen in the workplace, there is an all-time high volume of viruses on the Internet. Some experts estimate that one out of every seven or eight e-mails right now have viruses attached. This situation will only get worse. Your best line of protection from viruses is an education on what to look for and what to avoid.
“Most malicious software arrives in response to a click on a seemingly innocent web link, or as a harmless-looking e-mail attachment… you don’t have to be poking around in seedy corners of the Internet to stumble across viruses and Trojans.”
Preventing an infection
There has been a recent increase in viruses posing as harmless email attachments. While this strategy is nothing new, it is worth reviewing how to avoid this common trap.
- Do not download attachments from a source you don’t know. Email attachments are the number 1 way that viruses and other malware get spread. You should never click an attachment or link in an email from someone you do not recognize. If you are unsure of the sender, get confirmation from them that the file is legitimate before downloading it. It is always better to be skeptical of an email that seems “off”, than to have a virus infect your network.
- Do not download attachments from a source you DO know unless you were expecting it. Many times people will get infected with viruses that send emails without their knowledge. This means you can receive email from trusted sources but the email itself is not trustworthy. If the writing is odd or the attachment looks off, do not click it. Verify with the person that they intended to send you the attachment you received.
- Beware of odd emails from companies you do business with. A popular phishing technique is to copy the style of a company email and include links that look similar to the regular URL, but instead send you to a fake site (“povver” instead of “power”, for example). These sites then collect personal information that you thought was going to a trusted server.
- Any legitimate company will never ask you for passwords or other personal information through email.
- Be careful with USB drives. USB drives are a popular vehicle for virus transmissions, usually without the owner being aware at all. You could get an infection just by inserting the USB drive, or could get your USB drive infected by plugging it into a public computer. Try to use other methods for file sharing, such as online storage or email to send files.
Are you protected?
Anti-Virus is your final line of defense against malicious software. Daily updates to virus definitions help prevent the latest viruses from having a chance at affecting your computer. However, no anti-virus is perfect and it is up to you to make good decisions while browsing the web and opening emails.
The latest trend used for spreading computer viruses is actually one of the oldest: email attachments and links.
Many times, these emails will seem legitimate at first glance, but caution needs to be used whenever there are attachments and/or links within an email.
If in doubt: Contact the sender directly to verify the email is legitimate.
TrueIT can help you stay ahead of the game or recover from an attack, contact us today for more information.
Written by: Chris Edwards