A lot has been said about the whole computer virus thing, especially lately, but what’s the real story? Well, I’ve been through the viral trenches and am here to tell all.
A virus is basically a miniature program that runs on your computer and does bad things. Two of the biggest questions about viruses (as far as we’re concerned) are: ‘Can I get one from a casino site or download?’ and ‘How can I prevent them?’
Let’s begin at the beginning. You can get a computer virus from any of the following sources: e-mail; downloaded software; software updates; ICQ; a web page; any document, program or application that you accept from your local network; any disk, diskette, tape, cartridge or other media you stick in your computer; or any software you install.
In other words, almost anything at any time.
For the Internet gambling community, that means any Toto SGP casino software, software update, casino web site, newsletter, or e-mail from a casino is a potential virus threat.
Scared? Don’t be, because the vast majority of those potential threats are only that – potential. With a little care, caution, and paranoia you can stay virus free.
Step one to a virus-free life is going to cost you a bit: get a good virus scanning program. As far as I’m concerned, that means getting Norton Anti-Virus (the 2002 Edition is the best so far), setting it to start automatically when you boot up your machine, telling it to perform “Auto-Scan” at startup, and enabling it to watch both your incoming and outgoing e-mail.
Personally, I run two virus scanners on my computers: Norton for e-mail and web pages, and another called AVP by Kaspersky Labs for larger system scans. Both are stable, powerful, reliable and serious anti-virus tools and they make a good, two-fisted anti-virus strategy.
Step two is to update your virus scanner(s) regularly. I’m talking about the free, online updates that refresh the virus scanner’s database so it can detect the latest virus in the ever-evolving plague. These are small, fast updates and –if you’re asking my advice– mandatory.
I do my updates ever day or so, and it only takes about 2 minutes. Setting it up to run automatically using the LiveUpdate feature on Norton is even better.
Finally, step three. Always assume that an incoming file, program or disk is a possible threat. You can set Norton to automatically scan downloaded files and any disks inserted into your machine, which makes 24-hour protection painless.
In particular, be suspicious of anything that comes as an e-mail attachment. If it’s got a funny name (hello.jpg.scr or some such), be doubly suspicious. Save it and run a manual scan before you even think about opening it.
The question I keep hearing is, “Can I get a virus from X casino’s software?” I think I’ve pretty much made it clear that yes, technically, you could. But if you’re observing all three steps to a virus-free life, you’ll not only be safe but you’ll learn that the threat here is minimal indeed.
I’ve never seen a confirmed virus infection from a casino’s download package. We had a “maybe” once, but that was literally years ago, so don’t sweat it too much.