New virus on the net (II)
TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP: Computer Viruses
Let me start by saying that MOST of what you've heard about computer
viruses is probably wrong. Your computer can't get one from a toilet
seat, or by getting sneezed on by another computer that has a virus.
You DON'T have to be scared of computer viruses, but you DO need to
take certain precautions to protect your computer and its data.
This issue of TOURBUS will point you to some excellent resources to
help you to learn more about computer viruses (and related nasties),
ease your poor troubled mind, and protect yourself from the threat.
Let's start with a few (somewhat geeky) definitions:
A COMPUTER VIRUS is a program that can infect (invade) other
A COMPUTER WORM is a self-contained program that is able to
spread copies of itself, usually over a network.
A TROJAN HORSE is a program that purports to be fun or useful but
actually does something nasty. It cannot spread like a virus or worm.
A MAIL BOMB is an e-mail message that can allegedly cause harm to your
computer simply by opening and reading the message.
If you're not a geek, the difference between these five things is pretty
subtle. One way or another, you're dealing with a malicious entity that can
cause damage to your system. If you like, go ahead and call them all
viruses, but beware that you're likely to be "corrected" by someone with one
to many pencils in his pocket protector.
Are These Things For Real?
Viruses, worms and trojan horses do exist. Maybe you've heard of "Stoned",
"Michelangelo" or others - these are real and can cause serious damage to
a single computer or an entire network. Anything from spurious messages
appearing on your screen to unexplained slowdowns to mangled files to a
complete hard disk wipeout is possible.
But let me digress for just a moment to discuss some viruses that aren't...
* The "Good Times Virus" - is a HOAX that has circulated for several years.
It's supposed to be a mail bomb, but such things simply do not exist.
YOU CAN NOT GET A VIRUS SIMPLY BY OPENING YOUR E-MAIL. A virus can only
affect your system if you install and run a piece of software.
* The "Netscape Mail Bomb" is not a real threat. A now-fixed bug in
Navigator V3 could result in your system locking up when a certain bit
of HTML code was encountered. Requests for more information about this
will be cheerfully ignored. :-)
* PKZIP300 - is not a hoax, but it has become bigger than life. PKZIP300
is supposedly a rogue "Version 3" of the popular PKZIP software that
is "circulating widely" on the Internet. Claims that this trojan horse
program can cause damage SIMPLY BY DOWNLOADING IT are not true, and
to my knowledge it is not publicly available ANYWHERE on the Internet or
elsewhere. See the PKWARE site at http://www.pkware.com for more info.
How Can I Avoid Computer Viruses?
First, you can't avoid viruses by shunning shareware, freeware or games.
There are cases where even commercial "shrink wrapped" software was
accidentally packaged with a virus.
The best course of action is to be cautious of ANY newly acquired software
and to use "anti-virus" software that will automatically alert you to any
I also highly recommend that you read the "VIRUS-L FAQ" to get expert
answers to questions like these and others:
* What are the known viruses, major symptoms and possible cures?
* Where can I get free or shareware antivirus programs?
* Where can I get more information on viruses, etc?
* What steps should be taken in diagnosing and identifying viruses?
* What is the best way to remove a virus?
This FAQ is online at http://www.bocklabs.wisc.edu/~janda/virl_faq.html
and can also be obtained by sending e-mail to LISTSERV@LEHIGH.EDU with
the command "INFO VIRUS-L" in the message body.
The VIRUS-L mailing list (also available on Usenet as comp.virus) is a
forum for sharing information and ideas about computer viruses.
Discussions include virus sightings, virus prevention and Q & A. To
subscribe, send e-mail to LISTSERV@LEHIGH.EDU with the command
"SUBSCRIBE VIRUS-L Your Name" in the message body.
Who Writes Malicious Computer Viruses?
Remember that kid in high school - the one you picked on because his
pant cuffs didn't come down quite far enough to meet his cheap sneakers?
Your merciless taunting drove him into the computer lab, where he sought
revenge on the entire human race. This is all YOUR fault. :-)
Some Other Cool Virus-Related Stuff
I hope you'll read the VIRUS-L FAQ and get yourself educated on how to
avoid computer viruses. When you're done there, here's further reading:
* ZDNet Download Help - http://www.hotfiles.com/hlpframe.html
* Computer Virus Myths Page - http://www.kumite.com/myths/
* NH&A Anti-Virus Page - http://www.nha.com
* Virus Humor - http://www.netwrx.net/raport2/cmptrs.htm
And when you're done there, pop over to visit AARDWULF, the sponsor who
made today's issue possible (and find out if aardwolves really
AARDWULF Apparel offers quality brands like Timberland and
Calvin Klein at prices you can only get on the Web!
+--------------------( http://www.aardwulf.com )-------------------+
See you next time! --Bob
For info on my new book
--> "Doctor Bob's Painless Guide To The Internet" <--
send e-mail to BobRankin@MHV.net w/ Subject: SEND BOOKINFO
or visit my home page at http://csbh.mhv.net/~bobrankin
Drop in to read reviews and sample chapters!
Join : Send SUBSCRIBE TOURBUS Your Name to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM
Leave : Send SIGNOFF TOURBUS to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM
Archives: On the Web at http://www.worldvillage.com/tourbus.htm
Advertising: E-mail BobRankin@MHV.net w/ Subject: SEND
TOURBUS - (c) Copyright 1996, Patrick Crispen and Bob Rankin
All rights reserved. Redistribution is allowed only with permission.
Send this copy to 3 friends and tell them to get on the Bus!