Monday, November 14, 2005

Don’t Stop There

The battle against viruses has no end. Consequently, you must take steps to prevent viruses even when you are not regularly using email, the Internet, or a network.
For example, you may want to consider changing the boot sequence in the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System; set of instructions that controls the computer’s startup process, loads the OS, and activates hardware components) so it bypasses the diskette drive altogether. Why? Because you can easily acquire a virus if you boot the computer while an infected floppy diskette is in the diskette drive. Refer to the computer’s users manual for instructions about accessing the BIOS setup utility and changing the boot sequence.
You also should be on the lookout for social engineering. Social engineering is a term that describes the non-technical techniques hackers use to obtain information or spread viruses. For example, a hacker posing as a representative of Microsoft may send you an email message instructing you to install an attached update for Windows. But in reality, the attached file from the hacker is actually a virus. In such a case, the hacker doesn’t need to use a technical maneuver to deliver a virus to your PC; the hacker simply tells a lie. This is social engineering. The best defense against social engineering is common sense and a healthy amount of skepticism.
Speaking of which, common sense and a healthy amount of skepticism will protect you from most virus threats. For example, it’s common sense that tells you to install anti-virus software and update it regularly. It’s also common sense that encourages you to make regular backups and keep your installation CD-ROMs on hand so you can recover from a virus infection. And it’s skepticism that warns you not to open every email message that arrives in your inbox. These, and all of the preventative steps we described, will keep your computer running virus-free for a long time.

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