Conficker virus protection tips

HOUSTON If you haven't done anything to get ready for the Conficker worm, we can help you get ready, and it won't cost you a dime.

There is some debate about what, if anything the Conficker virus is going to do, at worst it could grab all your passwords and banking information, at best nothing will happen, but you don't have to take a chance.

Sick computers are nothing new to Colin Cox. From viruses that slow your system down to those that even make the device unusable, Cox sees infected PCs all the time. Lately the Houston computer technician has turned his attention to stopping just one virus, and it's called Conficker.

"We don't know what it is going to do," he told us.

Cox says the virus could do nothing at midnight, or it might start mining your PC for passwords that could allow the virus writers access to your bank accounts. If you have no idea if your PC is protected from Conficker, good news, there is a way to update your system free of charge.

"You should make sure your Windows is up to date and beyond that, you can download a free antivirus scanner," Cox said.

Here's what you should do:
- Log onto the Internet and go to the web site
- Click on the express tab to update your PC. If any patches are available, the Web site will allow you to install them free of charge
- Once that is done you will see a report that will telll you if the download was successful, if you see a failed installation, chances are you have the virus
- Your next step should be logging on to the web site and click on the "Get it now" button in the free basic protection box
- Click the download icon and the antivirus scan starts removing the virus. If your pc will not allow you to do this, take your PC to an expert

"There are a lot of computers that are going to end up being infected," said Jay Lee who hosts the radio show Technology Bytes.

Lee says you are probably safe if your PC is not used to download free music, movies or if no jump drives have been connected to your computer.

"When this program does load, it does do some fairly nasty things, it tries to break into things with pass word attacks," he said.

The Conficker virus is set to update itself at midnight, it's already midnight in some parts of the world and so far no major problems have been reported. What's the best way to keep viruses out of your computer?

Avoid downloading free music or movies, or opening forwarded jokes. Many times these items have a virus that you will never know about until your PC starts having problems.

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