A Conversation for How to Avoid Computer Viruses

Potentially useless information

Post 1

dElaphant (and Zeppo his dog (and Gummo, Zeppos dog)) - Left my apostrophes at the BBC

The article ignores two important facts:

1. By default, Windows 95/98 does not show the file name extensions. The advice cannot be followed until you go into the folder settings and make them visible. One clever virus exploited this fact by using two extensions, ".txt.vbs" so it showed up as only a ".txt" file on computers that did not have this setting changed.

2. Macintoshes do not use file name extensions at all, so most of the discussion is useless. Fortunately, with the exception of Microsoft Office documents, the types of files discussed are completely harmless to Macs, and Office documents are only mildly harmful. There are only 2 or 3 dozen Mac viruses, and they can easily be detected by virus-scanning software (even the old, out-of-date, no-longer-supported, free, still-available-for-download Disinfectant < http://hyperarchive.lcs.mit.edu/cgi-bin/NewSearch?key=disinfectant > will catch most of them.

The best advice is simply to avoid opening attachments unless you were expecting someone to send you one.

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Post 2

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Win 95/98 display options don't really enter into it, because your encounter with the attachment's filename and extension will occur in your email client, and not in Windows Explorer.

As for the discussion, this article is targeted to Winbloze users, because Winbloze users are the target of virus hackers, as you pointed out yourself. The best protection available is to go to non-standard programming. I use Winbloze only because most games are geared toward it, and so they perform better there. If the situation were different, I'd be a diehard Mac user.

As for office documents being mildly harmful, that WAS the case, but changed when Microsoft allowed vbs scripts to carry out macros. When macros were executed by Office itself, they were mostly harmless, since all they could do was suck up clock cycles with looping routines, and bog down your processing... as long as the Office application was open. They had mostly the same structure, too, so even unknown ones could be detected and cleaned with un-updated virus software. But if you're using Office 97 or newer, you have to watch out, or you can get a macro virus as deadly as any other. Still, I believe they would have to add extra code to make it workable in a Mac environment, would they not?

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Post 3

dElaphant (and Zeppo his dog (and Gummo, Zeppos dog)) - Left my apostrophes at the BBC

I'd modify that to say Windows' display options don't *always* enter into it. Depending on which version of Outlook someone is using, it sometimes affects the display of the name in the e-mail client. Of course you suggest avoiding Outlook completely, and that suggestion is worth high praise.

And yes, there would still need to be extra code to make a macro virus harmful to a Macintosh, and Office 98 for Macintosh still does not run VBS scripts. But don't worry; Apple has kindly given us AppleScript with which the same results can be achieved. The fact that very few AppleScript viruses have appeared over the last 10 years is NOT a testiment to the superiority of one system over the other, just to the lack of interest of evil pariahs in Macintosh programming.

Macs aren't safe. Don't coddle Macintosh users into a false sense of security by gearing the discussion to Windows users only. Please! We've already got too much of a superiority complex going. smiley - winkeye

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Post 4


No computer is safe. It all depends on the whim of the person writing the code. MS worms and virus' are the most prevalent in the wild, because there is a massive number of computers which they can work on (think biological diversity and what happens when a virus spreads through a monoculture).
There is also the argument about multiuser systems being less suseptable to getting trashed because only a limited number of users actually have the power to do that - though if your security policy is lax and something is able to get hold of the password file and email it out somewhere else then you might run into a whole different set of problems.

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