Avoiding Computer Viruses and Other Nasty Things
Few people reading this could have escaped notice of all the recent computer virus activity. Some may even have fallen victim to one of the various nasties that have been circulating. Luckily, I have remained virus free, but on one otherwise uneventful Monday not long ago I did receive nearly 100 copies of the SoBig virus by email. As a photographer, I find there is a lot of very useful information on the internet, but there're only so many emails entitled "Re: wicked screensaver" one person can take.
In the spirit of trying to keep the spread of such things to a minimum within the photographic community, I present the following tips.
- Install virus scanning software. Whether it be McAfee, Norton or something else, bite the bullet and do it if you haven't already.
- Keep your virus definition files up-to-date. Unfortunately, people keep making new viruses, so anti-virus companies keep making new data files to detect them. If you're not keeping your scanner current you're not really protected even if you think you are.
- Scan your computer regularly. Just having anti-virus software installed does no good if you don't use it. Set it to run automatically so you can stop worrying about it.
- Be wary of emails with attachments you are not expecting. If the message looks suspicious and has an attachment, check with the sender before opening it. If you don't know the sender, but doubly cautious.
- Keep up-to-date with security patches for your operating system and other critical software. Not all nasties spread by email these days. If your system isn't patched, you can catch the recent Blaster worm by simply connecting to the internet. Not good. Get patched.
- If you are a Macintosh user, you are not immune to viruses either. While Microsoft does deserve some of the blame for not taking the problem seriously enough, the main reason why so many viruses target Windows systems is simply that there are so many more of them than Macs. Even among virus writers, it's about market share.
For many, these are probably more reminders of things you already knew than they are tips, but it's surprising how many things we should do we never find time for. If virus protection is one of yours, take some time out to get your system in order now. I'm sure other users on the internet will thank you for it. I know I will.