Volume 92, Issue 74

Tuesday, February 9, 1999


Hopefuls face media grilling

Spoke opposes campaigning

Violence to be publicly addressed

Students file strike lawsuit

Alumni centre solves community conflicts

Medical use grows higher

Keep your computer safe from infection

Caught on campus

Shooting blanks


John Botting

Emily Chung

Joey Hammill

Perry Monaco

Nurup Naimji

Kalev Suurkask

SzeJack Tan

Stephen Zolis

Keep your computer safe from infection

Having recently come down with the Arnold Schwarzenegger of flu strains, my thoughts logically turned to computer viruses.

The "why" of these nasty little critters can be a little hard to explain because they are essentially the products of purely malicious minds. Someone decides to create a program whose sole purpose is to cause harm to other people's computers and then decides to spread it as far as possible.

Unfortunately, the internet makes this reach pretty widespread, thus satisfying any closet megalomaniac's urge to wreak havoc upon the masses.

The "how" of viruses is a little easier to explain. They tend to come in two varieties. The first class is called the "Trojan Horse" and it operates much like the original historical Horse. It appears to be an innocent program, but inside is a sub-program designed to cause damage to your system.

The second class is the more traditional virus, which actively rewrites code in other programs, thus "infecting" the new program. The virus is much more difficult to defeat than the Trojan Horse because it spreads between programs quite rapidly, especially in today's Windows-intensive environment.

The easiest way to protect your computer is to download or purchase one of the major virus suites available today. Mcafee's virus protection (www.mcafee.com) combines the ability to scan and clean with a "virus shield" designed to detect viruses before they are even executed, by scanning every file as it is run. Most other suites include this ability, including Norton Antivirus (www.norton.com) and Anti-Viral Toolkit Pro (www.avp.com).

Of course, like certain other activities (ahem), the best method of protection is abstinence. There are certain areas which tend to be viral hot zones. Most web masters are quite conscientious about maintaining their sites as virus free because web site ownership can be easily traced.

Private file transfer sites, however, are often completely anonymous and thus the downloader has no protection. Newsgroups and IRC downloads carry the same risk. The harder it is to pinpoint the origin of a file, the more likely that it will be infected.

Thus, sticking to less risky areas of the net is your best protection against a viral attack on your computer and sticking to areas outside of my place is your best protection against the flu.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999