Lately we have received an increasing number of complaints regarding subscribers who are infected with viruses. This is likely due to new tactics used by hackers to gain access to the systems of unsuspecting users, along with the unprecedented levels of virus activity this is causing.
The volume of spam and viruses is at an all time high. In fact, nine out of ten email messages crossing the Internet are either spam or viruses. Why the increase? Almost all of these messages are sent using armies of “botnets”, which are groups of compromised PCs across the Internet that the spammers have under their control. In addition to sending tremendous amounts of spam, these botnets send most of the virus messages, which in turn enlist more computers into the spammer’s virus and spam sending army.
Following are some important steps you can take to protect your computer systems:
- Install virus scanning software on your PC. Your computer can become infected in ways other than email. Some options are AVG, McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro. Trend Micro will even provide a free scan of your PC to determine if it is already infected.
- Don’t rely on any virus scanning solution to provide 100% security. For example, even with layered virus protection on both your PC and the server, virus scanning solutions cannot always protect against “zero-hour” attacks. You are still vulnerable between the time when a virus first appears and when security vendors are able to update their virus definitions.
- Always be cautious of attachments that you were not expecting or that you are not sure about. Be especially wary of opening or running any attachment that ends in .exe, .vbs, .bat, .pif , .com, and .scr, since these are “executable” file types that are commonly used to spread viruses and worms. In general, be cautious when receiving files from others, whether in an email attachment, a file download, or on external media such as a CD or USB flash drive.
- Watch out for .zip files and other compressed files. A common tactic today is to embed viruses in a compressed file to try and avoid detection by scanning software. The most common compressed format arrives with a .zip extension. You should use the same caution opening compressed files and launching the files they contain as you would with any other attachment.
- Be cautious with greeting cards. There has been a recent increase in bogus greeting card emails that point you to a Web site that is supposedly holding a greeting card just for you. If you follow the link, it may install a malicious file or direct you to download a file that contains a virus. While there are valid on-line greeting card web sites, use good judgement when you receive an on-line card. Is there a valid reason someone would be sending you a card at that time? Is it clear who sent it to you? If there is any question about a greeting card you receive, check with the person who sent it to you, and certainly do not respond to cards from people you do not know.