This document provide simple advice for users of Microsoft Windows on
how to avoid contracting and spreading e-mail bourne computer virus'
and other destructive and harmful software, sometimes refered to as
malware. This guide is not an exhaustive guide to computer security,
nor is it intended to be. This document should arm someone who has
little understanding of computer security to use e-mail without
problems and without causing a nuisence to other people.
The advice is this document is provided for free and while every effort
has been made to ensure its accuracy it comes with absolutely no
Many beginner computer users believe that providing they run a virus
scanner that they will be safe from all forms of malicious software. As
many find out to their cost this is not quite true. Most modern virus
checking software works by recognising malicious software by searching
against a list of known viruses. Clearly such software cannot protect
you from an unknown virus. Unfortunately new and therefore unknown
viruses often spread so fast that they have infected a significant
number of computers before the lists can be updated. This requires
computer users to take a more proactive approach to e-mail security.
There are in fact several things that work together to minimise your
chance of contracting a virus.
Keep up-to-date with security patches
Does not run executable attachments
Run a virus checker as a secondary defence
Each of the above may be a little daunting to new users so each topic
is covered below in a seperate section.
Keeping Up To Date with Security Patches
Many viruses try to exploit well known bugs in commonly used software.
By exploiting these bugs some viruses can be contracted simply by
reading an e-mail rather than by opening any attachments. For this
reason suppliers such as Microsoft issue security patches that fix
these problems. Thus one particular important proactive defence against
viruses is to keep these patches up to date.
Since keeping track of patches can be a little complicated Microsoft
provides an automatic tools to keep your computers software up to date.
This tool is called Windows Update can be found pointing Internet
Explorer at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
When you first visit this site you will be asked to accept a security
certificate from Microsoft in order to download the Windows Update
software. You should accept this. Once you have done this you will be
presented with a welcome screen.
When you click on Scan for updates your computers will be
examined and a tailored report generated.
The report lists the number of patches, updates and other useful
software in the left and column and lists any critial security updates
in the right hand column. Clicking on Review and install updates will
show your report in more detail.
When you click on Install Now this will start the process of
installing the updates.
Note: After you have clicked on Install Now the computer is likely
to ask you to Restart it. After you have restarted you should visit
Windows Update again since in some cases Install Now is unable to
install all the vital patches at once.
You should visit Windows Update regularly, perhaps even once a week, to
check if there are any new updates available.