virus

Can someone else take control of my computer over the internet?

Saturday, December 18th, 2010 | security, technology | 1 Comment

We hear horror stories about hackers who can gain control of your computer, which allows them to use it for criminal activities – even accessing your bank account and draining it.  Can his happen?  It is unlikely but it is possible, and you can do much to avoid it taking place.

A program called spyware is put on your computer to gather information about you without your knowledge or consent – this information is then relayed to unauthorised people.

Spyware could affect you in various ways.  It could:

  • secretly monitor your internet surfing habits and record the sites you visit
  • collect all sorts of personal information about you, such as passwords
  • interfere with your control of your computer settings
  • install additional software
  • redirect web accesses
  • detect credit card details when you do internet shopping. 

You will know that your computer is infected with spyware when it acts in a strange way – look out for these tell-tale signs: 

  • pop-up advertisements appear even when you are not using the internet
  • the page your browser first opens to changes by itself and you find it difficult to change it back to what it was
  • a new toolbar appears in your browser and you can’t get rid of it
  • your computer becomes sluggish
  • your computer unexpectedly freezes. 

When you surf the internet and click on options of pop-up windows, spyware may be secretly loaded onto your computer.  It may also be installed on your machine when you download material such as music or video files. 

Protect your technology by using anti-spyware, which should be a part of anti-virus software.  Of course, the best form of protection is to avoid downloading spyware programmes.  Remember a few basic rules:

Only download programs from web sites you trust; be wary of free music and movie file-sharing programmes.

Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download.  Buried in a licence agreement may be a disclaimer saying that information about you will be passed on to another party.

Never click “agree” or “OK” to close a window. Instead, click the red “x” in the corner of the window to close it.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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How can I recover from a virus attack?

Friday, December 17th, 2010 | technology | 3 Comments

Does the following sound familiar to you?

You went for your annual anti-virus flu injection; you took your vitamin tablets regularly; and you went out of your way to stay out of the way of people with flu symptoms.  In spite of all these precautions, one morning you woke up with a sore throat and a throbbing headache.  The flu virus got the better of you!  That is when you rushed off to the doctor for advice and a cure.

After taking all necessary precautions to protect your computer against virus attacks, it may still become a victim.  Perhaps you were not as vigilant in updating the anti-virus software as you should have been, or it could be that a new virus strikes for which no antidote yet exists.  Remember, the programmers who create the viruses want to cause harm, and when the antidote prevents their latest virus to harm you, they simply create another one.

What do you do when your computer becomes a virus casualty?  In some cases the anti-virus software may act like an antibiotic and isolate and remove the virus.  If this does not happen and it becomes clear that the virus is wreaking havoc, switch off the machine and get expert help.

In many cases a technically competent person will be able to save the situation.  But in the worst case scenario your machine can be cleaned, the hard disk reformatted and the programs and data files reloaded.  This will give you a clean start.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Virus infections have proved this saying true over and over.  If your computer has ever been a victim of a virus attack, you’ll realise the importance of doing everything in your power to prevent the next one.

Don’t let the possibility of a computer virus stand in your way to use technology in your classroom.  Protect your computer as well as possible.  A virus can not destroy your equipment.  The worst that can happen is the destruction of your programs and data.  True, this is an annoyance – but it is a situation that can be remedied.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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Is there any way I can protect my technology against a virus?

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 | Computer Usage, technology | 1 Comment

The good news is that many technology devices in a classroom are immune to computer viruses.  These nasty e-bugs do not affect equipment such as data projectors, scanners, printers or interactive whiteboards.  It is mainly your laptop or computer that is at risk.

The bad news is that when your computer is infected by a virus, other peripherals – devices attached to your computer – may not function since they receive their instructions from the computer.

It is quite simple to safeguard your classroom technology against virus attacks: you only have to protect your computer or laptop.  How can you do this?

During a flu epidemic you protect yourself by staying away from people who are infected.  The same principle applies to a computer virus.  You won’t pick up a virus on your computer if you put your machine next to an infected one.  But you can catch a virus if you communicate with an infected machine.  This can happen over the internet, through an e-mail message, or by means of a data stick or disk that has been infected by another computer.

One of the common ways in which viruses are transferred is through e-mail attachments.  If you do not know the source of an e-mail, or if it seems suspect, delete it from your system without opening the attachment.

Don’t use a data stick or disk unless you have confidence that the previous user of the disk is not infected by viruses.  You can never be sure – always view unknown sources of data with suspicion.

You also need some preventative medicine – in the form of anti-virus software – in the same way as you would go for an anti-virus injection to boost your body’s immunity.  If your school does not have a site licence for this software, it can be obtained from technology vendors; free anti-virus programs are also available on the internet.

New strains of biological viruses develop all the time and that is why you must get anti-virus booster injections.  Similarly, since new computer viruses are developed on an ongoing basis, virus fighters frequently add antidotes to newly discovered viruses in their anti-virus software programs.  To benefit from them, you must update your system regularly with the latest version of the program.  Your licence usually allows you to load these updates from the internet.

Adequate protection against computer viruses is in your hands.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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What is a computer virus … for dummies!

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 | technology | 3 Comments

The computer virus lends its name from the field of biology.  In medical terms a virus is a minute infectious agent which lacks independent metabolism and is able to replicate only in a living host cell.  A virus acts in a similar way in a computer.

A virus is a small software program, which has really no purpose other than to cause harm.  It is infectious – that means it is transmitted from one computer to another.  Like a biological virus, it has the ability to replicate – make copies of – itself, while it is within your system. A computer virus can therefore be defined as:

A malicious piece of software that is designed to spread from one computer to another with the intent of causing damage.

Some viruses bring about more harm than others.  The damage may range from being a mere nuisance to causing system failure.  Some of the effects that you could experience if your computer is affected by a virus are:

Unsolicited e-mails are sent to everyone in your address book from your laptop.

Your computer restarts constantly so that it becomes impossible for you to work on it.

Some of your documents are e-mailed to strangers.

Some of your data files are erased or corrupted.

All the data from your hard disk are erased.

Where do these viruses come from?  Clever programmers who want to cause wilful harm to as many computers as possible write these programs – the Microsoft Windows environment is their main target.  If you are working under Apple Mac or an open source operating system, you are unlikely to be infected by a nasty virus.

Even if you are using Microsoft Windows, you don’t have to be haunted by the fear of virus attacks – protection is possible!

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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What is spyware?

Monday, May 18th, 2009 | laptops, security | 4 Comments

The term spyware is used to describe a programme that is put on your laptop to gather information about you without your knowledge and consent – this information is then relayed to advertisers or other interested parties.  The important thing to note about spyware is that it harvests information about you without your consent – this is what makes it so objectionable.

Spyware could affect you in various ways.  It could:

  • secretly monitor your internet surfing habits and sites you visit
  • collect all sorts of personal information about you, such as passwords
  • interfere with your control of your computer settings
  • install additional software
  • redirect web accesses
  • detect credit card details when you do internet shopping.

How would you know if your laptop is infected?  Your laptop may act in a strange way – look out for these tell-tale signs:

  • pop-up advertisements appear even when you are not using the internet
  • the page your browser first opens to changes by itself and you find it difficult to change it back to what it was
  • a new toolbar appears in your browser and you can’t get rid of it
  • your laptop becomes sluggish
  • your laptop unexpectedly freezes.

While surfing the internet, and clicking on some options of a pop-up window, spyware may be secretly loaded onto your laptop.  It could also be installed on your machine when you download material such as music or video files.

Protect your laptop by using anti-spyware.  Of course, the best form of protection is to avoid down-loading spyware programmes.  Remember a few basic rules.

Only download programs from web sites you trust; be wary of free music and movie file-sharing programmes.

Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download.  Buried in a licence agreement may be a disclaimer saying that information about you will be passed on to another party.

Never click “agree” or “OK” to close a window. Instead, click the red “x” in the corner of the window to close it.

Be careful where you click!

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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What can I do when a virus strikes?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | laptops, security | Comments Off

In spite of all the measures you take to protect yourself against biological viruses – staying away from infected people, taking your vitamins regularly and getting anti-virus booster injections on time – you may still suffer a virus infection.  That is when you go to the doctor for advice and a cure.

You can expect the same to happen with your laptop.  Hopefully you will take all necessary precautions to protect your machine against virus attacks, but it may still become a victim.  It may be that you were not as vigilant as you should be, or it could be that a new virus strikes for which no antidote yet exists.

What do you do when your laptop becomes a virus casualty?  In some cases the anti-virus software may act like an antibiotic and isolate and remove the virus.  If this does not happen and it becomes clear that the virus is wreaking havoc, switch off the machine and get expert help.

In many cases a technically competent person could save the situation.  But in the worst case scenario your machine can be cleaned, the hard disk reformatted and the programmes and data files reloaded.  This will give you a clean start.  Do you now understand why a backup is so important?  Even when a virus messes up your data, it can be restored from a recent backup without too much loss.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

This saying has been proved true over and over in the case of computer virus infections.  If you’ve ever been a victim, you will realise the importance of doing everything in your power to prevent a virus attack.

You don’t have to live in fear.  A virus can not destroy the hardware of your machine.  Software and data can be restored.  If a virus does its dirty deed, make a fresh start and continue to enjoy your laptop.

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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How can I protect my laptop against a virus?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | laptops, security | 2 Comments

The best way to protect yourself against a biological virus is to stay away from it – avoid contact with anyone or anything that could possibly transmit a virus to you.

The same principle applies to a computer virus.  You cannot pick up a virus on your laptop if you put your machine next to an infected one.  But you can catch a virus if you communicate with an infected machine.  This can happen over the internet, through an email message, or by means of a data stick or disk that has been infected by another computer.

One of the common ways in which viruses are transferred is through attachments of emails.  If you do not know the source of an email, or if it seems suspect, delete it from your system without opening the attachment.

Don’t use a data stick or disk unless you have confidence that the previous user of the disk is not infected by viruses.  You can never be sure, but always view unknown sources of data with suspicion.

Whereas the first way to protect your laptop against a virus would be to stay away from potentially infected sources, this is often not enough.  You also need some preventative medicine – in the same way as you would go for an anti-virus injection to boost your body’s immunity. 

Anti-virus software products are available to protect your laptop in case you come in contact with a malevolent virus.  Such software may be included in the purchase of your laptop – ask the dealer if this is the case.  If not, make sure that you acquire anti-virus software for your laptop.  Check whether your school or school district has an agreement with a supplier of anti-virus software that may make it possible for you to use it at no cost.  Otherwise, invest in an anti-virus programme.

Don’t forget that anti-virus programmes must be updated on a regular basis.  It is similar to biological viruses – new strains develop all the time and that is why you must get anti-virus booster injections.  New computer viruses are developed on an ongoing basis and virus fighters incorporate antidotes in the anti-virus software programmes.  To benefit from these updates, you have to update your system regularly.  Your licence usually allows you to load these updates from the internet.

Keep your laptop safe – protect it against viruses.

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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What is a computer virus?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | laptops, security | 1 Comment

In medical terms a virus is “a minute infectious agent which lacks independent metabolism and is able to replicate only in a living host cell.”

A computer virus is similar.  It is a small software programme, which has really no purpose other than to cause harm.  It is infectious in the sense that it is transmitted from one computer to another.  Like a biological virus, it has the ability to replicate – make copies of – itself, while it is within your system. A computer virus can therefore be defined as:

A malicious piece of software that is designed to spread from one computer to another with the intent of causing damage.

Virus programmes are written by clever programmers who want to cause wilful harm to as many computers as possible.  Their intentions are not noble.

The Microsoft Windows environment is the main target of viruses.  If you are working under Apple Mac or an open source operating system, you are unlikely to be infected by a nasty virus.

Some viruses create more damage than others.  The harm may range from being a mere nuisance to causing system failure.  Some of the effects that you could experience if your laptop is affected by a virus are:

  • unsolicited emails may be sent to everyone in your address book from your laptop
  • your laptop may restart constantly so that it becomes impossible for you to work on it
  • some of your documents may be emailed to strangers
  • some of your data files may be erased or corrupted
  • all the data from your hard disk may be erased.

A virus attack is one of the greatest threats to your laptop and against which you must have adequate protection.

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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