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Viruses - how to help yourself!

Please be aware of the various viruses doing the rounds -there seem to be new ones every week ... and of course there are the hoaxes that cause people to email all their friends only to discover that it wasn't a virus at all. Read this and it may help you to help yourself!

There are various Anti-Virus engines, most of which will protect you against viruses like these PROVIDED YOU KEEP THEM UP TO DATE. Links to the various sites are given below.

How to protect yourself

The first and best thing to do is to get a good virus detector onto your machine. We use F-Prot from Datafellows (www.datafellows.com). Other good ones are from Sophos (www.sophos.com) or Macafee (www.Macafee.com) and I am sure there are others on the market. If you find you cannot link to these websites, there is a good chance that you already have a virus on your machine as one of the things it does is to stop you linking to Anti-Virus sites.If that is the case you will need to find a computer store and purchase the software from them, put it onto your machine and clean it.

It is very important that you then update this regularly - ideally once a DAY - once a month is not often enough as new viruses are appearing all the time. But still follow the rules below as no virus protector will be 100%, especially if it hasn't been updated.

Next, keep to these simple rules which should help to protect you:

If ANYTHING has an attachment that ends .exe, DO NOT open the .exe file ... either delete immediately or if you know who it came from, reply and say "did you just send me a file, because if you didn't then you have a virus on your machine. Please get it checked and cleaned immediately"

Do this even if you know the person well ... they may not be aware they have the virus. If you really need to send or receive an executable file (ending .exe) then send an email in advance to make sure that the person knows you are sending it, make sure they know what it is called and put an agreed message into the email with the file.

If ANYTHING comes with a file that ends .jpg.vbs, or perhaps .jpg.prn or something like that DON'T open it. It is likely the "from" address will be blank. When you look at the attachment, it often just seems to say .jpg at the end as the .vbs does not display in an email. If you drag it to your desktop, you will see the .vbs at the end and must just delete it immediately. Do NOT double click on it, or try to open it as it will infect your machine immediately.

SCREEN SAVERS are another well known source of viruses, and you should not open files which end .scr - one of the best known of these is one about Snow White. It comes with a file attached again, the file usually ends .scr and you may get it in any language, and with different starts to the story. You must just delete it. don't even bother to open it, as you can see the subject line. It normally comes from an email address "Hahaha"

There are many others, but if you keep to the principle that unless you know you are meant to be receiving an attachment, DO NOT OPEN IT until you know what it is and you will be reasonably safe.

At the present time, .pdf files - the ones that require Acrobat Reader - are safe, but any files that end with .exe, .scr, .vbs are certainly not and many others should be treated with great caution.

There is no substitute for good virus protection regularly updated, and although it may cost you money in the first place it will be well worth it in the long run.

I hope this helps

Best regards
anna