Bits & P.C.s: Viruses and Trojans
By Richard Heller
As frequent readers know, one of my favorite topics has been viruses and Trojans. One of the reasons for this is that many of you feel that you are immune from attack because the only thing that you use the computer for is e-mail.
Unfortunately, you are the type of person that the computer hacker has targeted. They are aware that you know little about computers and the software, so they write their programs to trick you into running their program. They do this by sending e-mail that has a different sender name than the actual sender; they send you a picture that is actually a virus, or other emails that may do even more personal damage.
These people will send you an e-mail stating that they are from your Internet providers security department and that the credit card or billing information that they have on file for you has been compromised. They will then ask for all the details such as name, credit card number, expiration date, and other personal details.
The problem is that many of you are so naïve or gullible that you answer these questions and give this personal information to them. If someone knocked at your door and asked you the same questions, you would ask for some proof that the person was actually who he said he was. Why should an e-mail be treated any differently?
When your computer is infected with a virus, you stand a chance of losing all the data on your computer. This means any letters or other documents and business reports or accounting information, along with photos and other personal files may be gone for good. Can your business afford to lose its account receivables?
In addition to the data loss is the expense involved in removing the virus from your computer. I have found that it takes a minimum of two hours to clean a computer, but it usually takes 6-8 hours to be sure that all traces
of the virus are removed. This time does not include the re-installation of Windows and the programs themselves.
If your data files have not been backed up recently, you will have the added expense of having someone re-enter all the information, that is, if you have access to the data to re-enter. As you can see, this can run into the hundreds of dollars just to remove a virus from one computer.
If your computers are networked, you will have to disconnect all the computers from the network and do this same process on every computer. If you do not disconnect the computers from the network, the virus will travel from one infected computer to the one that you just cleaned, re-infecting it. If you have 10 computers networked, you are talking a minimum of 20 hours to get the computers to the point that they can be reconnected.
I hope that you will see why I stress the importance of an up-to-date anti-virus program. No one is safe, not even you e-mail only computer users.
Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.