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Virus & Malware Scanning & Removal

Anti-Virus & Malware Management

Viruses can reach your computer system in several ways, through USB Drives, CD-ROMs, email, web sites, and downloaded files. All need to be scanned for viruses each time you use them. In other words, when you insert a disk into the drive, check it for viruses. When you receive email, check it for viruses. When you download a file from the Internet, check it for viruses before using it. Your anti-virus program may let you specify all of these as places to check for viruses each time you operate on them. Your anti-virus program may also do this automatically. All you need to do is to open or run the file to cause it to be checked.

Just as you walk around your yard to see if everything is OK, you also need to “walk” around your computer to see if there are any viruses sneaking about. Most anti-virus programs let you schedule periodic exams of all files on your computer on a regular basis, daily for example. If you leave your computer turned on over night, think about scheduling a full-system review during that time.

Some anti-virus programs have more advanced features that extend their recognition capabilities beyond virus signatures. Sometimes a file won’t match any of the known signatures, but it may have some of the characteristics of a virus. This is comparable to getting that “there’s something not quite right here, so I’m not going to let them in” feeling as you greet someone at your door. These heuristic tests, as they’re called, help you to keep up with new viruses that aren’t yet defined in your list of virus signatures.

An anti-virus program is frequently an add-on to your home computer, though your newly purchased computer might include a trial version. At some point, say after 60 days, you must purchase it to continue using it. To decide whether to make that purchase or to look elsewhere, use these steps for evaluating anti-virus programs:

  • The Demand test: Can you check a file on demand?
  • The Update test: Can you update the virus signatures automatically? Daily is best.
  • The Respond test: What are all the ways that you can respond to an infected file?
  • Can the virus checker clean a file?
  • The Check test: Can you check every file that gets to your home computer, no matter how it gets there, and can those checks be automated?
  • The Heuristics test: Does the virus checker do heuristics tests? How are these defined?
  • These tests – the DURCH tests – help you compare anti-virus programs. Once you’ve made your selection, install it and use all of its capabilities all of the time.

Intruders are the most successful in attacking all computers – not just home computers – when they use viruses and worms. Installing an anti-virus program and keeping it up to date is among the best defenses for your home computer. If your financial resources are limited, they are better spent purchasing a commercial anti-virus program than anything else.