Preventing the spread of viruses is fairly simple. When you're surfing the Internet, download programs only from reputable shareware sites. Beware of email attachments as they may be carrying a virus "payload" - refer to Email Attachments for more information. Email text messages do not carry viruses. However, each and every attachment to an email message should always be scanned by virus detection software before execution or opening of the attachment. If you download a file that you're not sure about, whether it is a program or file such as an MS Word document, you can use anti-virus software to check the program or file before you use it. If the attachments ends with .exe, .vbs, .scr, .pif, or any other extension that you don't recognize, you'll want to scan it with your anti-virus program before you open it. (Your anti-virus program help files will help you with that). General rule of thumb: don't ever open anything if you don't know who the sender is. However, since many viruses can now disguise the message as someone you might know, always remember to scan all attachments before you open them.
Viruses can also be spread through chat programs like ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. Be sure to scan any files you receive from other users with your anti-virus program before opening them.
For your anti-virus software to be effective, you need to update it regularly. As new viruses appear, each of these companies updates its virus library (dat file) and software and you have to install the update on your computer to be protected against the new viruses. In short, the list of viruses is always expanding, so be sure to keep your anti-virus software current.
There are many different Anti-Virus Companies, a few are listed below:
AVG AntiVirus www.grisoft.com -Free Edition Available-
Sophos AntiVirus www.sophos.com
McAfee Virus Protection www.networkassociates.com
Symantec/Norton AntiVirus www.symantec.com
Another important way to keep your comptuer from getting Viruses is to go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com and download all of the Critical Updates for your Operating System. This is very important to do because there are a variety of security issues with Windows Operating systems.
Viruses can and do infect computers even if you do windowsupdates, run an AntiVirus program, and don't open Email Attachments. Microsoft and AntiVirus companies respond retroactively to new viruses, so there is no way to be 100% safe, all you can do is decrease the risk.