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This is a simple method which may help against some types of computer viruses on some types of computers.

Also see Anti-Virus Measures and Anti-Virus software

This method, printed at one time in an issue of PC World (was http://www.vnunet.com/), is detailed as follows:

A slick trick against e-mail viruses

As you may know, when/if a worm virus gets into your computer it  heads straight for your e-mail address book and sends itself to everyone in there,  thus infecting all your friends and associates.

This trick won't keep the virus from getting into your computer, but it will stop it from using your address book to spread further, and it will alert you to the fact that the worm has gotten into your system.

Here's what you do:

First: Open your address book and click on "new contact" or "new  person" just as you would do if you were adding a new friend to your list of  e-mail addresses.

Second: In the window where you would type your friend's FIRST name,  type in !000 (that's an exclamation mark followed by 3 zeros). In the window below where it prompts you to enter the new e-mail address, type in WormAlert.

Third: Then complete everything by clicking add, enter, OK, etc.

Now, here's what you've done and why it works: the "name" !000 will  be placed at the top of your address book as entry #1. This will be where the worm will start in an effort to send itself to all your friends.

But when it tries to send itself to !000, it will be undeliverable because of the phony e-mail address you entered (WormAlert). If the first attempt fails  (which it will because of the phony address), the worm goes no further and your friends will not be infected.

Here's the second great advantage of this method: If an e-mail  cannot be delivered, you will be notified of this in your Inbox almost  immediately.

Hence, if you ever get an e-mail telling you that an e-mail addressed  to WormAlert could not be delivered, you know right away that you have the worm virus in your system. You can then take steps to get rid of it.

If everybody you know does this, then you needn't ever worry about  opening mail from friends. Pass this on to your friends.

Well, I'd seriously question the last point there, but in general, and particularly on some computers which are still using operating systems with "micro" and "soft" in the name, the method could be surprisingly effective. It's a variant on the idea suggested in the Anti-Virus Measures page where you should always have yourself included as an entry in your address book.

What's really neat about this, and the idea of Anti-Virus MEASURES (rather than anti-virus software), is that it can be done easily without anything really technical being implemented.

But let's not get complacent, because virus-writers are developing new viruses which can get around some of the tricks. For example, in July 2002 the tendency for double file-extension files in e-mail attachments to have a huge long space inbetween the extensions. It's best to be ahead of these things and keep on advancing the defences.