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Which activities pose the greatest risk of catching a virus?

Assess your virus risk

Almost all viruses are aimed at Microsoft applications and operating systems. If you're running a Mac or Linux OS with no Microsoft products then you barely need to worry about viruses.

The program most targeted is Microsoft Outlook. Over 90% of virus attacks are aimed at this program. If you don't run it, 90% of your virus security worries disappear.

Some people say that Microsoft suffers the most because its software is so popular. Others say that the biggest software company in the world is lousy when it comes to security. Personally, I would never say that about a company with so many lawyers.

Here are the risk factors for various tasks on your Windows PC:

Activity Risk
Viewing Web pages Medium. There are viruses that can transfer directly from pages to your computer. See details
Downloading software from the Internet Low from popular sites.
High from unrecognized sites. Ask yourself, do I trust this site with my computer?
Reading email without attachments Medium if you use the preview window (see Viewing Web Pages). Low if you get rid of it.
Reading email attachments Very high indeed.
Reading Microsoft Word email attachments Low with recent versions of Word. High for old versions.
Running executable files (.exe) received in emails from unknown sources Higher than a hippy in a pot plantation


An introduction to viruses

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Displaying file extensions

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Anti-virus software

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