Dwight Watt Internet Article #42

#42 - Virus hell - Melissa says I love you. 5/7/2000

#42 - Virus hell - Melissa says I love you.

Last Thursday once again a major computer virus spread across the computer networks across the world. This time it was the ILOVEYOU virus. Last year it was the Melissa virus. People's data was again damaged. Maybe it hit you, maybe it did not.

I received at least seven copies of the virus. However I did not open the attachment, so I had no problem. I use Eudora as my e-mail program, so they did not mail from me.

So how did the viruses spread? Both used Microsoft Outlook as their way. They both mailed themselves to everyone in their Outlook address book (actually Melissa only sent to first 50 addresses). The way Outlook works increases vulnerability to viruses like these two. Because it wants to open messages by default and the attachments, many people opened and spread the virus without realizing it. ( I can also open messages automatically in Eudora, but choose not to), and often I delete messages without opening them. Messages that get deleted with opening include such as "XXX-hot pictures" or similar and "Make money on e-mail" go straight to the trash.

So how do you protect yourself against such things as viruses. First get a good antivirus program and keep it up to date. I personally use Norton AntiVirus. McAfee also receives good reviews. Run the update regularly. Even that will not protect you 100%. ILOVEYOU will not be detected unless you updated Thursday night or since. However ILOVEYOU will continue to live, such as Melissa and thousands of other viruses. Secondly, watch what you are opening. Don't just open an attachment. Who sent it, what is it supposed to be? The ILOVEYOU virus definitely shows a problem in the world today. People were opening ILOVEYOU notes from all kinds of people. Are we that hungry for love? Third, there is no way we will ever stop the viruses. In this case I suspect when we catch the writer, his story will be he was mad at his university and wrote it to shut them down, with no idea he would wipe out the world. Fourth, once again the human race learned life can exist without the computer, just on a slower pace.

If you don't have an antivirus program on your machine, get one. If you don't have the current version and signatures, get them. If you don't have the antivirus software always running which is usually called a shield, get it running. Treating computer viruses is a lot like human viruses. Use some common sense and your likelihood of getting one is reduced just like getting flu shots, but not totally eliminated.


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