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On-Access Scans

An on-access scan runs in the background when you open a file or use a program. For example, an on-access scan can run when you do any of the following:

■    Insert a floppy disk

■    Download a file with FTP

■    Receive e-mail messages and attachments

   View a web page

The scan slows the processing speed of other programs, but it is worth the inconvenience.

A relatively new form of malicious attack makes its way to your computer through ActiveX and Java programs (applets). These are miniature programs that run on a web server or that you download to your local machine. Most ActiveX and Java applets are safe, but some contain viruses or snoop programs. The snoop programs allow a hacker to look at everything on your hard drive from a remote location without your knowing. Be sure that you properly configure your on-access component of antivirus software to check and clean for all these types of attacks.

Many programs will not install unless you disable the on-access portion of your antivirus software. This is dangerous if the program has a virus. Your safest bet is to do an on-demand scan of the software before installation. Disable on-access scanning during installation, and then reactivate it when the installation is complete.

Emergency Scans

In an emergency scan, only the operating system and the antivirus program are running. An emergency scan is called for after a virus has invaded your system and taken control of a machine. In this situation, insert your antivirus emergency boot disk and boot the infected computer from it. Then scan and clean the entire computer.

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