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MATCO ELECTRONIC PUBLICATIONS

Presents

Articles of Interest to PC Entrepreneurs

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Any of these articles may be republished by other newsletter, magazine or ezine publishers as long as they are posted intact with all credits. If you are an author and would like an article added to this list, email the article in HTML format to mtims(at)matcopublishing.com
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DON'T CATCH A (COUGH, COUGH) VIRUS!
by
Michael A. Tims

Computer viruses are insidious programs spawned by programmers who have nothing better to do than to try and wreak havoc on the world wide computing community. It seems that no computer is immune to a computer virus and it is true that some are simply minor inconveniences, such as the "Ambulance" virus which just displays a small ambulance driving across the bottom of your screen or the "Yankee Doodle" virus that plays the well known tune when triggered. Unfortunately, there are thousands of viruses out there which are much more destructive than those that simply create a nuisance. Some attach themselves to programs and prevent them from running properly; others erase your valuable data; still others attempt to format your hard drive, thus losing ALL programs as well as your valuable data. In fact, there are more than 8000 viruses which have been identified to date, with an estimated 150 to 200 new ones popping up each month.

Don't be fooled into thinking that you couldn't possibly get your computer infected because you never download anything from the Internet or never log onto a Bulletin Board Service (BBS). Even commercial, factory sealed software packages have inadvertently been shipped with a computer virus aboard. If you ever borrow a disk from a friend or bring a disk home from the office to do work at home, you are especially at risk of infecting your home computer at some time or another

So, what can you do to protect your computer from an accidental bout with a virus and what can you do after the fact? Some preventive maintenance as well as a healthy dose of anti-virus software should keep your computer alive and running well. With the proper tools and a little caution, you could even continue to enjoy downloading files and programs from the Internet as well as your favorite BBS.

Before tragedy ever strikes, be prepared by having a clean, uninfected floppy boot disk for your computer. In this way, if disaster does strike, you can at least boot from the floppy disk and then run an anti-virus program to detect and clean out any viruses that are infecting your computer.

If you run DOS or Windows 3.1, make a boot disk by inserting a floppy disk in drive A and typing Format A:/S at the DOS prompt. Then add a copy of your "AUTOEXEC.BAT" and "CONFIG.SYS" files as well as a copy of "COMMAND.COM" to the floppy disk. These files are normally in the root directory of your hard disk drive.

If you run Windows 95, you should have opted to create an emergency start-up disk when you installed the program. If you didn't, you can still make a bootable start-up disk to use in an emergency. First click on START and choose SETTINGS from the start menu. Then choose CONTROL PANELS and double-click on the ADD PROGRAMS button. Finally, select the STARTUP DISK TAB and click on the CREATE DISK button.

There are several good virus detection programs on the market and each has it's strong points to recommend it. Just be sure you have at least one of them on hand. VirusScan 2.2.9 for Windows 3.x and VirusScan 2.0 for Windows 95 (Both by McAfee Software, 800-338-8754) are perhaps the best known of the anti-virus programs out and at an average street price of only $69, it is cheap insurance to have on hand should disaster ever strike.

Other well respected anti-virus packages are also available from the following sources:

Dr. Solomon's Anti-virus Toolkit #7.59, $100 Dr. Solomon, 800-310-9078, 617-273-7400

IBM AntiVirus 2.4, $50 IBM, 800-742-2493

Norton Antivirus 3.0.9, $50 Symantec, 800-441-7234, 541-334-6054

PC-cillin 95 1.02, $50 TouchStone Software, 800-932-5566, 714-969-7746

Fortunately, the anti-virus programs from McAfee may be downloaded free from the Internet, as shareware, or purchased as shareware from shareware distributors. Program registration will entitle you to the periodic upgrades of the virus signatures, etc. For ViruScan 2.A for Windows 95, look for VS95I2AE.ZIP (Matco disk # 55007). ViruScan 2.2C for Windows 3.1 may be found as WSCI22CE.ZIP or Matco disk #55008. VirusCheck 3.0 is a security shell for the McAfee ViruScan programs and may be downloaded as VCK30.ZIP or ordered as Matco disk #55009, while Vshell 2.05 is a front end program for ViruScan and Clean-up and may be downloaded as VSHL205.ZIP or ordered as Matco disk #55010.

Once you have one of the anti-virus programs installed on your computer, keep it up to date by obtaining monthly "Virus Strain Signature" updates. As new virus strains are found, the anti-virus program must be updated in order to be able to recognize the signature of the new strain. Most of the antivirus programs now provide virus strain updates over the Internet, making them available to download as soon as a new strain is detected.

Just because you have an antivirus program and a clean boot disk, you still cannot afford to let down your guard. Make it a point to scan each new floppy disk before using it on your computer and set the antivirus program to automatically scan any file accessed from a floppy disk. Also set it to automatically check for viruses hidden in any files you download from the Internet or any BBS.

Although it has been said that a virus cannot be transmitted to your computer through Email, a virus can be sent to you in an Email attachment. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to make it a practice to scan all Email attachments before you open them. Just remember the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and in the case of computer viruses, it is important to prevent as well as to have the ability to cure. Your data is too important to risk any loss. By-the-way, you are making periodic back-ups of your hard disk drive, aren't you? ==================================================================
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AUTHOR PROFILE 

Michael A. Tims is a retired high school math teacher but has run a mail order business as a sideline for over 20 years. Being a self taught computer NUT, one of his passions has been to find unique ways to use a PC to enhance or enable a small business venture.

Mr. Tims has written numerous magazine articles on PC basics or using a PC in business and is the author of the published book, "101 Computer Related Businesses", as well as a syndicated column called, "PC Biz of the Month".

Visit his new web site at www.matcopublishing.com and let him know what you think of it. Many other articles may be read at www.matcopublishing.com/articles.htm

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