A Virus Free Internet in 2011
Are you running your PCs without anti-virus software?
After three years of working with PCs without installing anti-virus or virus protection software, i can safely say that its time to move on.
Yes, it was an exciting time...stories of new exploits, innovative ways in which attacks were carried out, important servers going down, and so on and so forth.
But now, the handling of these digital beasts that roamed on the internet and attacked computers mercilessly is a fairly simple task and just requires some awareness on your part. Here are the rules I've been following to keep my machines free of viruses -
Rules for a virus free internet
1. Know your file extensions(Word document, excel sheet etc.). Here's a helpful list. You can bookmark this site and just use it for reference whenever you find a file with an unknown extension. Avoid downloading any file with unknown extensions.
2. Beware the word "executable"...common executable file extensions include "exe, bat, com, dll". Unless you are downloading a well known application from the application's home page or download page, you should not see these extensions. If you download such a file by accident, don't worry...just refrain from opening the files and delete them permanently(shift-delete or delete and empty recycle bin)
3. Always verify the authenticity of a download link...and no, ratings are not good enough, look for user comments near the link. Don't download anything that doesn't have a good user comment unless the link is from a verified source(like microsoft.com or such).
4. Don't download anti-spyware or anti-spamware software. 99% of the time, these are the software that actually open your computer up to viruses. I even saw an incident, where an anti-virus software unleashed spyware and spamware the day the trial license expired. The worst part? it was a reputed anti-virus software.
5. Don't download Microsoft Office files, especially Word Documents or Excel Sheets from unverified sources..e.g. one of your average joe free word template site.
6. Here's a little secret...lets say you found a download link to a file that is neither executable not a Microsoft Office document, and you're desperate to get it...you can't verify its safety. How do you download it? Its simple really, switch to safe mode(here's how), download the file and open it. If it works, use it(even in the regular, non-safe mode). If it doesn't you can be dead sure its a virus. Simply delete the file if you're not sure.
Remember, a virus can enter your system only via executables or via file formats which have executable code in them(like word macros, for example). If you educate yourself about safe file formats, you will never get a virus. I can vouch for this, I've been running my company this way!
But you've only told me how to remove the virus from my computer, what about the internet?
Ok, well there's the good, the bad and the ugly. The good, is your anti-virus software, the bad is the virus itself, but the ugly is that in this case, the good needs the bad to survive. Anti-virus software cannot survive without the existence of viruses. You think there isn't any underground funding happening to keep the pirates who write viruses alive? If you've ever met a salesman and asked him about "purchase triggers", you'll see what I mean.
When you stop using anti-virus software, you're killing the funding source for the pirates, and you'll force the pirates to go do something more contructive, like build the next greatest routing algorithm.
Got the point? Good, now backup your data, educate youself and follow the rules above on a fairly useless computer. Once you get the hang and form the habits in a couple weeks, you'll never ever need anti-virus software ever again!
Wishing a digitally safe 2011 to All!
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