[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Data Loss and Virus
Prevention | Virus Detection and Protection | Virus Infection Mechanisms and Prevention ]
Since our objective in preventing virus infection on our PCs is to keep the hard disk
"clean", I think collectively of virus avoidance methods as digital hygiene.
The idea is simple: much the way you protect your body from infection by being very
careful about what you put into it, you need to take precautions to make sure you
understand exactly what files and media you are putting into your PC.
The sections that follow discuss common methods of virus infection and some steps you
can take to avoid them. Still, it makes sense to bear in mind the following general rules
of "digital hygiene":
- Garbage In, Garbage Out: This is one of those old computer aphorisms that is so
true in many cases (both in the computer world and elsewhere). The only way to get a virus
infection is by allowing infected software into the PC. Viruses cannot spontaneously
generate on a PC.
- More Connections Means More Risk: The more different ways you interface your PC
to others, the more chances there are of a virus making its way onto your system. A
standalone PC with a stable software base has much less chance of becoming infected by a
virus than a PC shared by multiple users that is connected to a large network.
- Piracy Has Its Price: While infections from store-bought software happen, they
are extremely rare. On the other hand, software that is shared from PC to PC, or worse is
obtained from illegal sources, has a much higher chance of being infected.
- Use Backups: If you have the ability and the discipline to maintain multiple backups of your system over a period of time, this is a
useful "last ditch" defense against virus infection. It doesn't really prevent
viruses from striking your system, but it can save you in the event that you are unlucky
and you suffer data loss due to viruses. (Note that you need to have a reasonably long
retention period in your backup cycle for this to work. If you just backup your entire
disk onto the same backup tape once every week, then you only have one week at most to
catch any given virus before you end up copying it onto the backup tape as well.)
- Control Access to Your PC: You should be careful about who uses your system.
Generally speaking, a PC in an open area used by dozens of people will develop viruses far
more often than one on an individual's desk. The reasons are obvious. To prevent the
casual use of a PC in an office environment, consider using a boot password (just remember to write
down the password in more than one safe place. If you lose it, you will have a problem. See this optimization section for more security
Next: Infection by Floppy Disk (or Other Removable Media)
Home - Search
- Topics - Up