Happy Virus Appreciation Day!

Yup, it’s a real thing.

October 3rd, is recognized as Virus Appreciation Day. Which virus exactly? No one really knows, the creators didn’t specify or identify themselves. So instead let us highlight how to destroy or avoid any virus.

Computer Viruses

Computer viruses have been around since the early 1970’s — before computers were in every home. With the expansion of knowledge, the average person with no formal computer science education can infect computers and networks.

One of the most damaging viruses was the I Love You virus.

In May 2000, a Filipino computer science student used VBScript to infect millions of Windows computers worldwide within a few hours. Considered to be the most damaging worm ever, it was spread using an email message with the subject line “ILOVEYOU” and the attachment “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU-.txt.vbs”. Notice the end of this attachment, .vbs, which stands for Microsoft VBScript. The worm would infect the local machine, overwriting image files and sending a copy of itself to the first 50 addresses in the recipient’s Windows Address Book.

How To Protect Your Computer

It is estimated that the ILOVEYOU worm caused $5.5 to 8.7 billion in damages worldwide and cost an estimated $15 billion to remove the worm.

You can protect yourself by not opening any attachments from unknown sources as well as paying attention to the extension of the attachment. Avoid opening any of the following. These extensions tend to be the most common executable programs.

  1. EXE – DOS based executable file or program
  2. VBS – Visual Basic Scripts that execute a program or function
  3. ADE –
  4. ASP – Microsoft Active Server Page.
  5. BAT – MS-DOS batch file.
  6. HTML – HyperText Markup Language
  7. JS – JavaScript File – A text file containing JavaScript programming code.
  8. XSL – XML style sheet.

Note that there is no set list and these are constantly changing. Also some of these viruses are able to mask the extension or make it seem like a text document. This was the method used by the ILOVEYOU virus which appeared to be a text (txt) document. To learn more, read About Potentially Unsafe File Types.

Human Viruses

There are several tools available to you to protect yourself from viruses and the flu bug.  A good article to read is What Are the Odds of Getting the Flu? In this article the author shares several tools to keep you and your family healthy.  Viruses are spread by human contact. When you see someone coughing or sneezing, protect yourself and keep your distance. Also, remember that germs lurk all around us. On our keyboard at work, door knobs, cabinets, just about anywhere humans interact with objects. Keep your hands away from your eyes and nose. These are the highways that viruses love to cruise on.

Wash your hands frequently and don’t rely on only a bottle of hand sanitizer. Although this can kill some of the germs, the most effective way to keep your hands clean is to wash them with soap and water.

This Virus Appreciation Day, let us raise our awareness about how to protect ourselves and avoid missing work or school. Our health is money and prevention is far more cost efficient than visiting the doctor after you have become sick.

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