What is a computer virus?

Viruses are nasty little computer infections that can damage your computer and destroy your documents. They’re mostly transmitted through emails and attachments, but can also be picked up from websites.


What should I do?

Here’s some top tips for protecting your computer:

1. Install anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date. Some of this software updates itself automatically but this isn’t always the case. If it’s not updated regularly, anti-virus software can’t fully protect your computer as it won’t recognise the latest threats.

2. Install a firewall. This will help keep your computer protected by blocking dodgy sites.

3. Install Microsoft updates and security fixes. If you use Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, your computer could be at risk. The latest version of Windows is usually the most secure, but staying updated with 'patches' will minimise any risks.

4. Make sure you have spam controls. We catch many viruses automatically as part of our spam controls, so they won't even arrive in your inbox.

5. Don’t open files with double extensions. Some sneaky viruses try to hide by giving themselves double file extensions, e.g. virusfile.pif.bat. If you see any emails that contain these files, delete them pronto!

6. Disable Outlook preview pane. Did you know that some viruses can be transferred simply by viewing an email in your Outlook preview pane? Don’t worry, the preview pane can easily be disabled.

- Open Microsoft Outlook.
- Click View Menu or the tab at the top of the program window.
- Click "Reading Pane"
- Select "Off"

7. Don’t run .exe files. If you’re sent a file ending in .exe, it’s an executable file (a little program). Never run .exe files unless you were expecting the file and know what’s in it. Always scan these file types with your anti-virus software before running them.

I think I might already have a virus. What should I do?

Unfortunately, we can’t accept responsibility for external links or third party software you have visited or installed on your computer. But we can help you get back in action. First, run a virus scan with your anti-virus software. Microsoft has a Malicious Software Removal Tool, which can be used to clean various viruses from computers running Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

To find out more, get in touch with us: aup@virginmedia.ie