Tips on Avoiding Computer Viruses

UA News Services
April 12, 2004

The Center for Computing and Information Technology's Computing and Communication News offers and new and feature articles related to computing at the UA.

Below is a list of tips to avoid computer viruses. For more information, got online to

Do not open any files attached to an e-mail from an unknown, suspicious, or untrustworthy source.

Do not open any files attached to an e-mail unless you know what they are, even if it appears to come from someone you know. Some viruses can replicate themselves and spread through e-mail. If you aren't sure, confirm with the sender that the files are legitimate.

Do not open any files attached to an e-mail if the subject line is questionable or unexpected. If necessary, save the file to your hard drive and scan it with your own anti-virus software.

Delete chain e-mails and junk e-mail. Do not forward or reply to any to them. These types of e-mail are considered spam, which is unsolicited, intrusive mail that clogs up the network.

Do not download any files from strangers.

Exercise caution when downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is a legitimate and reputable one. Verify that an anti-virus program checks the files on the download site. If you're uncertain, don't download the file at all, or download the file to your hard drive and scan it with your own anti-virus software.

Update your anti-virus software regularly. Over 500 viruses are discovered each month, so you'll want to be protected. These updates should include the virus signature files. You should periodically update the product's scanning engine (client) as well. (Sophos Remote Update does this.)

Back up your files on a regular basis. If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with your backup copy. Store your backup copy in a separate location from your work files, preferably one that is not on your computer.

When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and do not open, download, or execute any files or e-mail attachments. Not executing is the more important of these caveats. Check with your product vendors for updates that include those for your operating system, Web browser, and e-mail. One example of where such updates are available is the security section of Microsoft's Web site, located at Make sure your operating system has the necessary Critical Updates.

If you are not sure, contact the CCIT Help Desk at 621-HELP (4357) at the Computer Center, Room 224, open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.For assistance with Sophos, e-mail


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