Computer Advice

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Virus Types, Hoaxes and Information


Before we discuss the types of viruses, we should discuss why you need to know this information. This information is not required to prevent or remove viruses. It is purely educational, and meant to give you a better understanding of the enemy - viruses. If you keep your antivirus software up-to-date, you will dramatically decrease the chances that you will become a victim of a viral attack. Unfortunately, no software can truthfully promise 100% protection, so it is helpful to know how different types of viruses will try to gain access to your computer.


Not a virus! Think of it as just another form of spam or an electronic chain letter.
Trojan Horse
The big Lie! A malicious program that pretends to be a good program. It does not infect other software. It does not copy itself. Just like a vampire, you have to invite it in. The malicious file must be deleted since it never was a legitimate program and therefore cannot be repaired.
A Trojan Horse with legs. Almost the same as a Trojan Horse, but it can copy itself to new victims.
Very similar in behaviour to a biological virus. A program that infects a host; it copies itself to your computer without your knowledge or permission and copies its program code into other programs/hosts.


Hoax Viruses


Hoaxes are becoming more common. They add to the general confusion and hysteria that surrounds the topic of viruses. If you get an email from a friend, relative or stranger alerting you to a coming computer Armageddon, the first thing you need to do is to stop and think for a moment. Do not pass GO, do not forward the email to all your friends, do not panic.


First, go to an anti-virus hoax page, such as, which will detail hoaxes, how to recognize them, and have links to write-ups on many of them. I also use and


Hoaxes will often follow a pattern . A typical email could be similar to this:

"If you receive email titled [email virus hoax name], do not open it! Delete it IMMEDIATELY !!!!!

It contains the [hoax name] virus. It will delete everything on your hard drive and [other extreme damage]. This virus was announced today by [reputable organization name]. It's worse than [last big real virus]. Forward this warning to everyone you know!!!"

Most hoax virus warnings do not deviate far from this pattern. To see if the message is a hoax or not, ask:

If the answers to most of these questions are "yes," then the virus alert is probably bogus.



There are many Internet sites with virus information. Before you spend time reading their information and acting on their advice - consider the source! It has never been more true that you cannot believe everything you read.


Symantec has a large number of educational pages about viruses.


A further authoritative independent antivirus and security site is:



Searching the Web


It can be frustrating. You know that the web holds a plethora of information, but when you need that one important fact for a presentation, or you're up at 2 a.m. because you can't remember the co-star's name in your favourite movie, you just can't seem to find them. Unfortunately there's more to most searches than just typing in a couple words and getting precisely what you're looking for on the screen. But if you're smart about it, the info you need can be just a few clicks away.


How can you find it? First you should familiarise yourself with the search engines you use most often, (like Google), starting with reading the advanced search tips. It would be great if sites standardised their query syntax, but until they do you'll find that there are varying degrees of support for advanced features such as Boolean queries, (the ability to specify and, not and or).


One of the most basic tips, which is very effective, is putting quotation marks around a phrase that you're searching for. Otherwise you'll likely end up with results for each word in your phrase, in addition to the whole thing.


When you've tried your query in every way imaginable and your results are still unproductive, what's next? Try a metasearch engine. These run your query on several search engines at once, the best ones compiling results by relevance. Since metasearch engines work with a number of different sites, each with varying syntaxes, queries should be kept basic.


One other option for searching is the specialised search. These services crawl subject-specific websites to retrieve relevant info. Specialised search sites are becoming increasingly popular, and are particularly useful for industries that are served by them, (i.e. government and health care).


With all the choices available, pretty soon people will need a search engine that searches for search engines.

See the Beersville Search page for search engine links.




Shopping Online


How to Shop Smart Online. Learning how to use your head can save your wallet online.


Make Your Connection Secure (https://)

Before you submit any sensitive or private information about yourself, especially your credit card number, make sure that the data will be encrypted and transmitted over a secure connection. Both your browser and the website's server should support industry standards, such as Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Ensure the web page starts https:// rather than http://


Protect Your Passwords

Don't create a password based on information that can be easily discovered, such as your birth date, telephone number, or partner's name. Instead, use a unique combination of at least six letters, numbers and symbols. Try deliberately misspelling words too.


Protect Your Privacy

Take a moment to read the company's privacy policy, which should detail what information the site collects and how it will be used.

Limit your exposure by filling out online forms carefully. Don't volunteer optional information. Instead, provide only the information required to complete a transaction. Never divulge information, such as your mother's maiden name, that can be used to gain unauthorised access to your accounts. Various free and fee-based web services will let you surf and shop anonymously. For example, Anonymizer will let you visit websites without revealing your name or email address.


Use an Insured Payment Method

Paying for your online purchases with a credit card isn't just convenient, it's smart. Your transaction is protected by law, which gives you the right to dispute charges and to withhold payment until the dispute is settled. In addition, if your credit card is used fraudulently, you are normally liable for only £50 of the total amount. Debit cards have less/no protection. Cash payments are increasingly common on the internet, thanks to online auction sites. For large sums, you could use a fee-based escrow service, such as i-Escrow or Tradesafe. But not everyone is comfortable paying with a regular credit card, or even has one. Alternatives are available. Consider disposable credit cards where your number becomes worthless once you complete a single transaction.


Check References

Look for a trusted reliability seal like VeriSign or something equivalent. BizRate conducts customer surveys and publishes ratings for categories such as quality of merchandise, quality of customer service, and timeliness of shipping. Auction sites such as eBay provide a feedback section, where purchasers can comment on the reliability of individual sellers.


Check the Terms of the Sale

Reputable online retailers display the terms and conditions of the sale, including warranties on the merchandise, limitations of liability, and return and refund policies. Some sites display this information prominently on "click-wrap" screen that requires you to accept the terms before completing the purchase. Other sites provide links to the information.


Include Taxes and Shipping

Scrutinise the shipping and handling fees tacked onto your bill. Per-item fees and expedited shipping methods can bloat the total purchase price. Look for sites that offer low-cost shipping methods or that deliver free of charge when you place a large order.


Double-Check Order Forms

Before you finalise a purchase, proof-read your order form. Typos, such as typing "22" instead of "2," can be costly mistakes. If your shipping address differs from your billing address, there is no way for the vendor to confirm its accuracy, so double-check it yourself. You should also make sure that the pricing information you see on screen is absolutely current and not an old price from a page that was cached on your system during a previous visit.


Estimate the Delivery Date

The seller should inform you of an approximate delivery date. For US sites, Federal Trade Commission rules state that if the seller does not specify a time period in which the product will be shipped, the merchant must either ship the product within 30 days, or notify you of the delay and offer to cancel the order and refund your money.


Complain About Problems

If you do experience a problem with an online purchase, notify the company immediately. Check the website for a free phone number, an email address, or links to customer service. If the company itself does not resolve the problem, contact the local trading standards office or some other regulatory body.


Get Contact Details

Click a site's Contact Us to find out how to reach the company offline. Click away if you don't find these essentials:


Save and Print

Save a copy of your online order receipt by saving the web page locally. And then print it out.


Receipts and Packaging

Keep all correspondence and packaging related to the purchase. Should a problem arise, you're likely to have a better resolution if you send back the product with all the packaging materials.


Prompt Return

Keep close watch on any 30-day return policy. If your question hasn't been resolved within 25 days, return the product and just say "poor communication" was the reason.