How Not to Get a Virus

A computer virus is a program that spreads by first infecting files or the system areas of a computer or network device’s hard drive and then making copies of itself. Some viruses are relatively harmless; others may damage data files, and some may even destroy files. Viruses used to be spread when people shared floppy disks and other portable media, these days viruses are primarily spread through email messages and unscrupulous websites.

Viruses are more prolific than ever, and although most organisations have good, business-class anti-virus protection, new viruses are being written all the time, with ever-changing methods of delivery. Inevitably, viruses are produced first with anti-virus products having to adapt second. That said, many viruses get triggered not because the computer is a PC but because the user isn’t paying attention or has been fooled by the delivery method. Some best practices are therefore as follows:

1. Use Microsoft Outlook well:
Most users get viruses from opening and running unknown email attachments.

  • Never open anything that is attached to an email message unless you know the contents of the file.
  • If you receive an attachment from a familiar email address, but were not expecting anything, you should contact the sender before opening the attachment.
  • If you receive an attachment from someone you don’t recognise, immediately delete the message.
  • Don’t click on hyperlinks in e-mails unless you trust the sender.
  • If you’re unsure whether an e-mail is legitimate, then telephone the company that purports to have sent it for verification before clicking on anything.
  • Don’t panic! If something is suspicious, or if you see a threatening popup or e-mail, call ISL immediately.

2. Avoid sites which contain pornography, software-download sites, file-sharing sites:
the majority of these sites will contain viruses.

3. Don’t download software that you have not verified as safe with your Network Administrator/ISL:
Consider all non-verified software as high-risk.

4. Beware of Fake Download / Play Buttons:
Always think twice or three times before hitting a download button – there’s a good chance it’s dangerous.

5. Don’t click on Adverts/Popups:
Consider all adverts as potentially high-risk.

6. Ignore Pop-Ups That Have Anything To Do With Security or Viruses:
These are difficult if you are actually running anti-virus software, because they pop up and fool you into thinking your AV software has found something. For a start, ignore anything originating from your browser – which you can check by completely closing it down. If you get a message from an AV app on windows you never installed, it’s likely you’ve already been infected.

If you’re ever unsure, ask your Network Administrator or ISL before you click on anything 

Please note: the above are best-practice guidelines, but with no provided or implied guarantees.