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Computer Virus

By Mark Rawcliffe features@algarveresident.com

Welcome to the first in our three part series on security of your computer – this week, the dreaded computer virus.

Security of your computer takes on various guises including the protection of your hardware, protection of your operating system, data and files against viruses, malware, spyware or other software designed to cause disruption. In part two, we will write about malware and spyware, and in part three about physical security.

Viruses, disruption and exploitation are the names of the game with most viruses setting out to slow down systems, delete files, infect other computers, but also to exploit “security holes” in the operating system structure with the sole intention of gaining access to gather information for financial gain or reward. With the majority of general users in the Western World opting for the Windows based computer systems, the largest amount of disruption and exploitation has the biggest effect and financial gain. Macs are however not immune. In this computer age, we have all become reliant on computers to perform a lot of our daily chores – shopping, communication and banking. So when our computer becomes infected, it is like getting the ‘flu’.

What are the solutions?

Vigilance is first. Watch which sites you visit, be careful who you accept emails from, and make sure your anti-virus is up-to-date. Remember: Anti-virus software is only as up-to-date as the latest virus presented to it, in the same way as ‘flu’ inoculations are only the previous year strain designed to help with some protection.

by Sérgio Fortuna – Microsoft support professional, with over 15 years’ experience in all types of computer systems. Algarve Computer Centre

Good antivirus software is an invaluable tool to keep your Windows based computer and the information on it safe.

Viruses have the ability to do very nasty things including sending personal information, including your credit card details to hackers and identity thieves. They can also turn your computer into a slave to send out spam email messages and attack websites or to do whatever the virus maker wants it to do.

There are lots of antivirus software companies including Avast and McAfee, some for free and some paid for. In this case, paying for an antivirus programme won’t necessarily give you the best protection.  

There are good free antivirus software programmes that will do the job just as well if not better. A good antivirus will keep out viruses, but it may not protect you from malware even if it says it can, but we will come to malware later in this series.

Having good antivirus software is not enough to keep your computer 100% safe. Rather it’s a combination of knowing which websites are trustworthy, what to do with unexpected pop-up messages that appear on your computer and how to treat suspicious emails.

For proper advice on securing the best anti-virus solution for your needs, you would be best talking to a professional as options are huge, and can sometimes be a little daunting.

Furthermore, some software comes complete with other protection options and some free versions are licensed for home use only.

It is always advisable to have your computer checked for viruses before installing a new anti-virus programmes or changing from one to another.

by Russell Newton – Apple Certified Macintosh Technician, Apple Certified Support Professional, Apple Certified Technical Coordinator, Apple Product Professional. Newteq Solutions

Macs are famously more resilient to virus infection than are Windows PCs – a fact that Apple has long used as part of their marketing strategy.

Does this mean then that they are completely immune to viruses? No it does not, and it pays for all Mac users to understand the pros and cons of using – or not using – anti-virus software.

Very few Mac users have ever even seen a virus on their computer but this does not mean that they don’t exist.

The hundreds of thousands of PC viruses out there are no threat at all because, as with any PC application, they cannot run directly in OS X. However, there are a handful of Mac-specific viruses on the loose.

The Flashback virus which hit the news recently was a case in point. As a Trojan, rather than a virus, it exploited a security hole in internet browsers and could potentially disclose private information to its writers.

It was very quickly eradicated by Apple via a simple software update – demonstrating the benefits of the Mac, rather than any weakness.

And therein is the lesson – the best way to immunise against Mac viruses is to keep up to date with your OS X software updates.

Installing anti-virus software provides even stronger protection but comes with its own trade-offs – principally slowing down and regularly interfering with your workflow.

If you decide not to take any chances and install anti-virus software, what is the best way to go about doing this? Simply click App Store icon in your dock and search for “virus”. You will then be presented with a choice of several Apple-approved options at very reasonable prices.