Got a Computer Virus? Here's What to Do (and Not Do)

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If you're using a third-party firewall program such as ZoneAlarm or
Comodo, then you can stop all Internet traffic in its path, preventing
the offending program from spreading or reaching out across the
Internet for help and updates. Even if you don't have a dedicated
firewall program, you can simply turn off your network connections by
right clicking on the network icon in the Windows system tray and
choosing "disable." Or you can just pull the Ethernet cable out of the
back (the easiest option on a Mac). The downside is that, with no
Internet, there is no updating of your anti-virus program, so make
sure you've installed the latest updates before locking your system
down completely.  DO: Update your Operating System (OS)

Thwarting a pesky virus could be as simple as running updates on
Windows or OS X. While updating your OS won't necessarily clear the
infection out, it may plug up any security holes that allow the virus
to spread and wreak havoc on your PC. This may leave the virus
effectively neutered, but don't stop there (see the next "DO" for what
to do next).
Got a Computer Virus? Here's What to Do (and Not Do)

by Terrence O'Brien, posted Feb 19th 2009 at 12:01AM

DO: Update and run your Anti-Virus program

The most obvious thing to do when your PC becomes infected with
malware is to update you anti-virus software (such as the Switched-
endorsed free AVG) and run a full system scan to root out and clean
out the offending software. This is the only way to confirm for sure
that you have a virus, and the easiest way to remove it from your

While there are no viruses for the Mac, we have already seen one
report this year of a nasty Mac-specific piece of malware and more are
likely to come in the future. As a precautionary measure we suggest
you get ClamXav, an OS X version of the very good Clam AV anti-virus
package, to help keep your Mac clean. DO: Reinstall your OS

If you've spent precious hours, days, or even weeks battling your
unwelcome visitor, talking to tech-support operators, and inviting
tech-savvy friends over to no avail, there is one last resort for
rescuing your PC: reinstall your operating system with the
installation discs that come with your computer. This is a worst-case
scenario, however, since it could mean losing some files. But at least
you won't have to buy a new PC! Avoid ever getting to this point by
backing up your stuff regularly and making sure your anti-virus
program is up-to-date and scanning every week at the very least.

Now, for some DONT'sDON'T: E-mail attachments to anyone

Until you've identified, located, and cleaned out the infection, don't
send any e-mail attachments (pictures, videos, documents) to anyone.
This is an easy way for you to spread your virus to someone else. So,
no matter how important it is, hold off on sharing that funny baby
photo of your sister bathing in the sink. First, run a proper virus
scan, more than once, and wait until the report comes back
clean.DON'T: Plug in a USB drive or copy files

Some viruses, like Conficker, can automatically copy themselves to a
USB drive. The next time the infected drive is plugged into a
computer, the virus will auto run, allowing it to spread to the new
machine, even if you've yanked your network cable in the back. Viruses
can also piggyback on other files, infecting or corrupting your music,
photos, or documents and using them to spread itself. So, don't copy
files, don't back them up, and don't do anything until you're sure the
virus is gone. Otherwise, you risk reinfecting your machine when you
open that file again or plug that external drive back in.DON'T: Shop
online or enter credit card or banking
information online.
For more information see below

One of the more common goals of viruses and other malware is to steal
your credit card information and other personal data for the purposes
of fraud and identity theft. For the most part, they do so by
capturing keystrokes or snapping screen shots, later sending the data
back to the virus's creators. If you think there is even the slightest
chance that you have a virus, steer clear of online shopping or
entering your credit card information until you're sure your PC is
safe.Just as is the case with your credit card numbers, any passwords
and other login information are also vulnerable to theft by a virus
and it's ilk. Until you've followed our earlier tips for safely
removing the infection, you should avoid logging into any sites,
especially e-mail or other accounts that contain personal and
potentially sensitive data.

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