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 Aim of this document is raising some points and to get your views on preventing computer virus infections in the Faculty.

Over the years many instances have been witnessed staff and students in the Faculty facing hardships due to the effects of computer viruses. The effects of these infections have ranged from minor temporary glitches to major irreversible problems in their computers and saved data.

Spending hours attending to Virus cleaning, formatting and data recovery on a regular basis has been an ongoing issue. Yet, regrettably there have been many instances where it has only been able to partially recover the data or have completely failed in the attempts.

Therefore it is very important all  are made aware of the most vital methods and rules of preventing (or at least minimising the risk of) virus attacks. This would be far more efficient and safe than having to remove viruses and recover data after the attack take place.

One of the biggest myths going around is that; having a “good” and updated virus guard may give absolute protection. Even though having updated antivirus software is very important, it must be stressed that it is only one aspect of protecting our computers from viruses. However popular and expensive the virus guards maybe, it is difficult to say which antivirus is the best. These things change all the time and not all viruses are detected and healed by even the most up-to-date antivirus software.

Some of the key steps that should be taken into consideration by all, are as follows:

  1. Minimize plugging in USB pens or any USB drives (external hard disks, digital cameras, phones etc.) to computers as much as possible. We have found that the main source of virus spread has been USB devices. Generally, when virus and worm programmes are written, they target these devices as the main mode of spread.
  2. Avoid using the same USB pen for data storage as well as transferring data from one computer to another. Only use it for one of these purposes. If not, strictly use one USB pen for data storage and another for data transfer.
  3. If a USB drive has to be connected, make sure that it is completely scanned by the antivirus before opening.
  4. Use online methods such as email, Dropbox, Google drives etc. to transfer data among different computers and different locations; as opposed to using USB drives.
  5. Regularly keep the data in computers backed up, preferably in more than one place. Data could be saved as backup folders in the computer itself, in a specific USB drive, in CDs or DVDs, in email, Dropbox, Google drives etc.
  6. Think twice before opening emails from previously unknown senders or suspicious links in emails (even if from known senders). If not sure, it is advisable to do a Google search on the subject line or sender to see if it is a known source of threat.
  7. Using Uinux based operating systems such as Ubuntu in computers is another option worth considering. There are two main advantages in using Ubuntu as the operating system. One is that it being completely free and open source.Generally, plugging in even a virus infected USB pen to a computer running on Ubuntu has almost no risk. In fact, this is a safe way of checking the USB pen for potentially harmful and hidden software. Many are reluctant in converting to this type of operating system due to non-familiarity and its apparent complicated features. But with the newer versions of Ubuntu, it has become very user friendly, having more and more features similar to Windows. Over the last few years, even some of the doctors have become very keen on using Ubuntu.
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