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Expert offers tips for dealing with computer virus



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A story about an e-mail virus is sparking e-mails to KSL. People are concerned about how to tell if their computer has the virus and what to do if it is infected.

Many people are posting on Facebook telling friends not to open e-mails from them because their accounts have been hacked.

Most people who've encountered the virus describe similar e-mails. They appear to come from someone you know, have a blank subject line, and contain only a link in the message body.

It's tricky to tell if your computer has the virus. Spammers can get your name from someone else's contact list and then send out e-mails that appear to be from you, even though your computer isn't infected.

Experts say you should look for telltale signs, like your computer behaving unusually, freezing up, a blue screen appearing, or pop-ups everywhere.

Also, keep your computer's anti-virus software up to date. Companies produce updates as hackers come up with new viruses. Bonneville International Corporation Network Manager Steve Hanline says anti-virus companies work hard but so do hackers.

"It's probably a new variation of, ‘Hey, they've blocked this, this and this. Oh, that's open. We'll attack that.' That's really the cat and mouse game," he says.

Hanline says you may want to consider running more than one virus protection program. One company may miss a virus but another will catch it.

If you know for certain your computer has been compromised -- for example, you clicked on a link you now know was bad -- Hanline says run your anti-virus software first, then get a new e-mail account. Also, send contacts an e-mail explaining what has happened and tell them not to open anything from your old e-mail address.

Experts say that virus, or ones like it, are right now in one out of four computers. They say the virus is likely an attempt to take over your computer, making it into what's known as a botnet, a computer that can be controlled remotely by someone else.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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