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What's Your Viral IQ?

Category: 2002 Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Mike Berman
Dave Berman

Had a good scare lately?

My endless battle in trying to keep nasty viruses from invading my computer has made me realize you can never be too safe! In fact, I'm often reluctant to turn my computer on if my antivirus software and firewall aren't installed.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, which old fuzzy-head on the right will probably confirm, but I don't feel warm and comfy if I am exposed to the endless array of trojans, worms and other creatures that want to do harm to my computer or others.

I see my paranoia as a good thing! Attackers have yet to penetrate my defenses and I can sleep at night knowing that no feindish hacker will be be sucessful in his quest to turn my computer into a useless hunk of metal.

The advent of broadband communications -- folks using cable and DSL modems -- has made us all vulnerable to attack. And, for that reason alone, I can't emphasize enough the necessity of everyone that lives at least part of their lives on line be protected.

It's essential that anyone voyaging through the ethernet install a first-class anti-virus program, such as Norton Anti-Virus, and a decent firewall, which can be obtained free of charge from

Now, my muscle-headed offspring will try his darndest to convince you that my rantings are the result of a fear campaign instituted by the folks at Symantec and McAfee (the manufacturers of the two biggest-selling anti-virus programs on the market). Don't believe it!

My ravings have sprung from seeing endless attacks foiled by a well-protected computer. This is war. And the only way we can win is to have a strong defense!


Avoid viruses like the plague (get it!?!?). There's only one surefire way to do this. Don't be stupid.

The same people that catch computer viruses are the ones that forward emails about Kentucky Fried Chicken using human parts in their 20pc buckets. These are the same people that only risk losing pornographic material when struck by a virus. So, if this happens to you then just reinstall everything. It won't take long for you to build that collection of MP3s back to where it once was.

There's a hard and fast rule here. Don't open any attachments in email, or download any unknown programs without checking them out first. Viruses have gotten smarter over the years and nowadays emails may come from friends of yours saying "hey, check this out!". That's exactly what you should do. Check with the person that sent you the email before opening it. I'd be both flattered and worried if my firend of 20 years sent me an email saying "I love you".

As far as firewall protection goes, well I'm all for it. Only use it if you have an idea of what you're doing. If you're the type that opens up attachments without a care or forwards on email after email after email after email, then I'd say don't bother. You're doomed anyway and you may as well open the door to allow more nasties entrance into your computer system.

If you are smart, dashing, charming, witty and hairy like myself, then I say go for it. Install away! Microsoft Windows XP has firewall protection built in. The only problem with this is that it doesn't tell you what it's protecting. Zonealarm is a better bet in this case, a bit more configuraable but not clear of annoyances. If something doesn't work and you have firewall protection on, turn it off and try again.

With millions upon millions of Internet users to attack, I'd say our chances are pretty good that we'll remain safe. I've been going without protection for quite some time and I'm free of viruses. It has been proven time and time again that protection gets in the way. Things just run more smoothly without it -- and it feels better in the end.

Seriously though, I have to agree with Mike. Virus protection is necessary. It protects the stupid people from getting infected and lines the pockets of companies like Symantec and McAfee. Send dear old dad an email and ask how many shirts and hats he has from Symantec.

-- -- Virus-free Uncertified Employed Senior Systems Administrator

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