Protect your computer

Knowing how to protect your computer is a vital step to preventing the spread of computer viruses

A virus is a program which can be spread among computer users via email, downloading files from the internet, or the introduction of an infected CD or disk into a machine.

The effects of these viruses can vary widely depending on what they were designed to do. Some viruses are annoying but cause no significant damage, others can be quite harmful and can even erase data or corrupt disks.

With an increasing amount of computers on the internet, viruses are able to distribute themselves at an alarming speed and over a much wider area than ever before.

The good news is that with a few simple precautions, it is easy to minimise the risk that viruses pose.

And if you are an eir broadband customer don't forget to sign up to our eSecurity service for comprehensive protection of your PC.

The following guide will give you the information you need to safeguard your PC.

There are some simple steps you can take to protect your system:

Do not open any email attachment unless you know what it is about.

Even if the attachment comes from a friend or partner, always ask for confirmation from the sender if you are in any doubt.

Install anti-virus or virus protection software on your computer.

An anti-virus product will scan all incoming mail and provides an effective means of protection from viruses. There are a number of software packages available with the ability to search for and eliminate viruses from computer systems. Find out about eircom's comprehensive eSecurity service features - Norton AntiVirusTM and Norton Personal FirewallTM.

Install an Anti Virus programme such as Norton or McAfee.

These programmes can be configured to stop viruses accessing your computer via email and can also be used to scan your computer for any viruses that may already be there.

Keep your anti-virus software up to date.

New and more sophisticated computer viruses are constantly being created. An average of 500 new viruses are discovered every month and y ou should keep your anti-virus software up to date in order to be able to detect these viruses.

Most anti-virus software vendors will either provide an option to download the appropriate updates from their websites or provide an automatic update feature built into their software (typically these automated features will undertake the process of connecting to the internet and downloading updates when they become available).

Be careful of suspicious emails.

Treat emails from people or organisations you don’t know with extreme caution as they may contain computer viruses. Any attachments received in this manner should not be opened until they have been scanned by an up to date anti-virus programme.

Do not open the attachments of messages with a suspicious subject.

If you want to open them, first save them to your hard disk and scan them with an updated anti-virus programme. Attachments with a file name ending in ".BAT", ".EXE", ".SCR", ".COM", or ".VBS", are the most common type of files for viruses to hide in.

Always scan files downloaded from internet sites with an up to date anti-virus programme.

If in doubt - do not download, execute or open it. Delete the attachment.