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Virus Alert

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About the Goner Virus

The subject line looks innocent enough'it just says hi. The text of the message is brief and includes a screen saver called gone.scr. Once you open the screen saver file, your computer is infected with the so-called goner virus. Southwest Missouri state university, the Cox healthcare system and other area businesses have experienced the virus. David Liss, the coordinator of user support at s-m-s-u describes the virus.

As with every new virus, it takes time for anti-virus software companies to write programs to defend against the new worm. In this case, Norton anti-virus distributed anti-virus files within hours of the virus' first few manifestations. Liss says computers are vulnerable until the anti-virus software is updated.

The golden rule in defending your computer against viruses is to avoid opening attachments to email messages unless you're expecting to receive the attachment. Liss says people's inability to follow this simple rule leads to the spread of viruses like the goner.

If your computer's infected, Liss says you can recover some lost files and restore your anti-virus software, thereby minimizing the lasting damage caused by the virus.