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Resolving and Preventing Viruses on you PC

In this document:

This document applies to computers with Microsoft(R) Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP.

This document explains the differences between viruses, helps resolve viruses, and offers suggestions for preventing viruses in the future. It also provides links to specific virus information and support documentation related to resolving and preventing viruses.

Definition of virus, worm, hoax, and Trojan back to table of contents

There are literally thousands of different viruses and malicious software programs that can damage your computer or make it run slower. The types of malicious software programs vary but are generally the following:

  • Virus- Software that copies itself into another program, sectors on a drive, or items that support scripts. Most viruses only copy themselves, while a minority unleash a payload, which is the action generated by the virus. Payloads can damage files, corrupt hard drives, display messages, or open other files. Typically, the payload is delivered when a certain condition occurs, such as when the date on the computer reaches a particular day.

    A virus variant is a virus that has been altered to take advantage of already created virus code. By doing this, the virus is not immediately detected by anti-virus software looking for the original virus.

  • Worm - A more effective form of virus that finds vulnerable systems and then copies itself into those systems. The most frequent methods of propagation are from email lists, email signature scripts, and vulnerable ports on the network. Worms may or may not have a damaging payload. Currently the typical payload for a worm is making the computer more susceptible to other malicious viruses.

    A superworm is a worm that sends itself out to other vulnerable systems only after it has detected many systems and made a "list". All infected computers send at roughly the same time. This makes virus detection more difficult and greatly increases the number of computers it can infect in less time.

  • Hoax - An email that usually states that it is harming the computer, but does not actually perform what it states. Some hoaxes ask the reader of the email to perform a damaging process, like deleting an important file.

  • Trojan or Trojan Horse - A Trojan or Trojan Horse is a software program that delivers a payload when opened. The payload of a Trojan is usually delivered as soon as it is opened and usually with devastating results. Trojans are often used to create back-doors (a program that allows outside access into a secure network) on computers belonging to a secure network so that a hacker can have access to the secure network. Trojans are most often delivered as an attachment to a seemingly innocent chain email.


Resolving and Preventing Viruses back to table of contents

The following steps will help you find, eliminate, and prevent viruses on your computer.

Step 1: Obtaining Windows Security Updates

The best way to avoid viruses is not to get them in the first place. Make sure that you regularly use Windows update to install all of the latest critical updates. Installing the latest critical updates from Microsoft makes your computer less vulnerable to malicious activity. To use Windows Update, connect to the Internet and go to the Windows Update Website. Agree to the terms from Microsoft and follow the directions on the pages to continue. To ensure that your computer is free of viruses, continue through the remaining steps of this document.

Step 2: Checking to see if virus scanner software is installed

    1. Move your mouse pointer along the bottom right corner of your computer screen over the icons next to the clock.

    2. You should see text that pops up when you move the mouse pointer over an icon.

    3. If you see any text that reads something similar to virus software enabled, you have virus-scanning software installed.

    4. If you don’t see this, click Start, then Find, and then Files and Folders.

      In Windows XP and 2000, click Start, then Search, and then All files and folders.

    5. Type Virus software into the Named box, and click the Find Now button (or Search in XP).

    6. In the search results area, you may see programs listed such as Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee Anti-Virus, NOD32, AVG, Panda, or TrendMicro. If you see any program that reads something similar to the above, you have anti-virus software enabled

Step 3: Installing anti-virus software

If you do not have anti-virus software, it is important that you obtain it. New viruses are created and released every single month, and without anti-virus software, you may jeopardize all the files and folders on your computer. The Web sites listed below offer free trial versions of their software. After installing anti-virus software, continue to Step 4.

Web links for virus-scanning software (These sites may offer free, trial, or upgraded versions of their software.):

    Since hundreds of new viruses are created and released each month, you should regularly update the virus definition files of your anti-virus software. A virus definition file is a list of known viruses that the anti-virus software uses when searching for and eliminating viruses. Do the following to update your virus definitions:

    1. Open your anti-virus software.

    2. Click buttons or menu items that read, update or live update.

    3. An update wizard should launch from your virus scanner software. If the wizard does not launch, you may need to go to the Web site of the company who makes your anti-virus software for more information.

      NOTE: If you have anti-virus software installed but want to install different anti-virus software, uninstall the old anti-virus software before installing new software.

    Step 5: Scanning for the virus

    After you have updated the virus definition files for your anti-virus software, scan for viruses. Since each anti-virus software has its own way of scanning for viruses, please refer to the software manufacturer's Web site or help files for help on how to scan.

    If you find a virus, it may have already damaged or destroyed some files on the computer. Your anti-virus software may be able to repair the damage. If the software cannot repair the damage, you may need to perform a full system recovery. Contact Cornerpost Computing for further assistance.


Specific virus information back to table of contents

This section of the document contains a link to information on the latest virus attacking computers. Currently, the "Sasser", "Blaster", "Welchia" and "Swen" worm-and email-viruses are affecting most users. Click the link below for specific information on preventing and resolving this virus:


Related support back to table of contents

Microsoft related support

Protect Your PC



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