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KIST ARTICLE # 910
A conversation with Patrick Lublin of KIST Computer Services,
by Mara Washburn
With all the talk about viruses lately I wanted to delve into this subject - in regards to computers - with Patrick at KIST (Keep It Simple Technology).
Q. Hi Patrick. I’m concerned that my computer might be infected. How would I know if I have a virus?
A. Well the short answer is; call me, but seriously, you could get a pop-up window that says you have a virus, this could be the virus itself, not your anti-virus software alerting you. But I’ve seen cases where you think everything’s OK, no virus here, and in fact you DO have a virus. A virus may install a picture on your desktop so you cannot use your icons. Some viruses will not let you open any programs because the virus closes the program as soon as you open it.
Q. Umm, OK…Well what’s the most common way to get a virus?
A. By clicking on something. Either clicking a link in an email - or clicking a link on a website.
Q. What about just opening up an email; could that give you a virus?
A. No, just by opening email does not start a virus program. If there is a link inside the email and you click that link it could start the virus program. The link will point you to a virus program - and by clicking on it, you’re actually giving the virus “permission” to to run on your computer.
Q. I seem to get a lot of pop-up messages while I’m on the Internet, and even when I’m working on a WORD document. What’s that all about? Can I get viruses from these too?
A. Once again, if the pop-up messages have a link that point to a virus then you may get one if you click on the link.
Q. But some pop-ups say something like I should click here to correct the virus I have.
A. No matter what – Do NOT click it. It could be a fake program that wants to you to pay money to fix it and the company will only take your money. It will not fix the virus. Again, don’t do it. Call me.
Q. It’s quite scary when I see these messages. I guess that’s been my problem. I’ve been falling for it, and clicking on them. Could I get a virus if I have anti-virus software on my computer?
A. Yes, not all infections are caught by anti-virus software. There are many viruses and other programs created daily that can infect your computer. Sometimes it takes multiple software to get rid of one virus.
Q. How do I know if I have anti-virus software, and if it’s working and up-to-date?
A. Most people have an anti-virus software, like MacAfee, or Norton installed
from the computer manufacturer. If you open your anti-virus software, there is usually a "Status Screen". This should show you if the software is up-to-date. The software could be a trial version which stops working after a year. If you know the anti-virus software has expired, you should call me. I’ve seen some customers where their anti-virus software has been expired for 2 years.
Q. And lastly, which brand of anti-virus software do you use?
A. I like AVG. It works good, it’s easy to use, and it’s free.
Q. OK, well. I feel a little better now, and I didn’t even have to take 2 aspirin. I’m going to look on my computer to see what anti-virus software I’m using. Can we set up an appointment so I can go over everything you discussed together? I think if I know how to find a virus, and manage it, I’ll have more resistance to clicking on those perplexing pop-ups, and I’ll feel more confident in general.
A. Sure – but I just want to remind you – you should NEVER click on something if you don’t know what it is, or where it came from.
Q. Thanks Patrick ! You’ve been a life-saver for me before, and I’m looking forward to being more proficient in this area.
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