- USE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE AND KEEP IT UPDATED:
Not only should you use an antivirus program, but you should keep the definitions updated. Washington and Lee makes Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition available to students AT NO COST. You can download SAV from our web page. If your laptop seems to be slowed down by antivirus scans or updates, you may want to try Microsoft Security Essentials, which is available from Microsoft at no cost.
- NEVER OPEN EMAIL ATTACHMENTS:
That's right, NEVER! Although attachments may appear to be from a friend, they may not be. Most viruses spread by grabbing addresses from address books and sending itself to everyone in them. Ask yourself these questions: Am I expecting this attachment? Does it make sense? Always verify that the attachment did come from a friend, and even then don't open it. Instead right click, 'save as' to your PC, and then scan it for viruses first.
- STAY CLEAR OF SO-CALLED 'REQUIRED DOWNLOADS' AND PATCHES:
Be wary of any Web site that requires you to download software to view a page, if it's something familiar like a Flash plug-in or Acrobat Reader, go to the product's homepage and download it directly. WHY? The file may contain a virus, a Trojan horse, or some auto-dialer that calls pay-per-minute numbers via your modem and racks up huge charges.
Never download something from an email. Never open an attachment that claims to be a 'security patch' or something similar. There have been viruses going around that claim to be from Microsoft and include a 'critical update'. Microsoft has NEVER sent patches and updates by email, and neither has any other legitimate corporation. Microsoft does send bulletins inviting you to their site to download patches or updates, but only if you've previously subscribed to their newsletter. Get your updates only from a legitimate web site, such as Windows Update.
- BLOCK AND/OR REMOVE SPYWARE AND POP-UPS:
Ideally it would be best to never install Spyware in the first place, but of course that's not always possible. Many "free" utilities like Kazaa or HotBar install spyware without your permission or knowledge. At best, they collect information about your browsing habits; at worst they can gather your personal information like credit card numbers and passwords. For a detailed description of spyware, follow this link.
Popup windows are nothing more than a new web browser window without all the trimmings. They are also just as capable of installing Spyware and are used for that purpose quite often. The Google Toolbar has a good built-in popup blocker.
- TAKE CHARGE OF THE SPAM YOU RECEIVE:
First, do not give out your email address to any website unless it is absolutely necessary. Second, NEVER, EVER respond to spam. Even if you reply to get off their spam list, you have just confirmed that your email address is valid.
- KEEP YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM UP TO DATE:
E-mail-borne worms and other viruses like to exploit security holes in your software--namely Windows and other Microsoft programs. Therefore, Microsoft issues many critical updates to fix these flaws. Last January, the Slammer worm exploited a vulnerability that Microsoft had fixed more than six months before. But thousands of infected computers--including some at Microsoft--didn't have the patch installed. Run the Windows Update program at least once a week and whenever Microsoft issues a warning. Mac laptops can be set to automatically update. Or you can manually update through (Apple Icon-->Software Updates. Apple malware is on the rise...don't be complacent!
- USE A FIREWALL:
A firewall is like a bouncer for your computer. It checks every data transfer attempt and won't let anything in or out of your system until you allow it - so a hacker can't access personal information on your hard drive, and a Trojan horse keystroke logger can't steal your passwords and transmit them over the Net.