Computer viruses: Being download-aware


PITTSFIELD -- Taking care of a computer is like protecting your body from an illness. Proper care, knowledge and smart decisions can keep viruses out of it.

While cyberattacks, viruses, Internet scams and hackers are discussed frequently in the media, Berkshire computer experts find that viruses and spyware often end up on people's computers because their users download dangerous items.

"They're sometimes harder to wipe out than what they used to be," said Howard Siegel, the owner of Bug Busters Computer Services, a South Street business that sells and repairs computers.

He said anywhere from a half-dozen to a few dozen computers each week need to have viruses removed.

"Sometimes we find that they're so infected, it's hard to get the virus out cleanly and completely," Siegel said.

Since Nerdz for Hire opened on South Street in Pittsfield last year, employees have removed what are known as "security viruses," or fake virus-protection programs, from computers at least once a week. Five security viruses were removed in a single week at the beginning of March, store owner Zane Poulton said.

Many viruses end up on computers from downloading items off of either BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing service, or the website Bearshare -- "Silly things," Poulton said.

"Pay attention to what you're downloading, and keep your virusing up to date," he said. "Don't just click next, next, next, next, finish. Make sure all the checkboxes are good. If you don't know what it is, don't install it."

It isn't always just problematic downloading that places viruses in computers. A Burbank movie studio, Facebook, Apple and The New York Times are just some entities that have reported hackers entering their websites.

About 10 percent of the computers brought in for repairs at Nerdz for Hire don't even have virus-protection software installed, Poulton said. But those computers never leave the store without the proper equipment.

Nerdz for Hire will install AVG, a free antivirus protection software, for its customers.

Though no virus software for a PC is 100 percent safe, Poulton said he prefers AVG over other programs.

"It's like installing big brother on the machine," Poulton said.

It's a different case at Mad Macs on North Street, Berkshire County's only retail outlet for Apple computers, which also provides service and support for them.

Co-owner Daryl Corbett, who runs Mad Macs' service department, doesn't install virus software onto the computers because he doesn't need to.

"As far as security goes, it's a very secure operating system," Corbett said. "It's more secure than Windows. I've never had anyone ask me to install antivirus software. Apple publishes updates for that stuff."

According to Corbett, the only virus that can affect a Mac is malicious software, or "malware." Opening a virus that could infiltrate a PC will not download onto a Mac, he said.

Downloading illegally pirated music, movies and TV shows are some of the most popular ways that viruses infect computers, Corbett said.

"Everything you do, you run it through a virus software," Corbett said.

To reach Adam Poulisse:,
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse

Computer services in the Berkshires ...

(All area codes 413)

Berkshire Computer Repair: 25 Leonard St., North Adams, 664-7950, no website.

Best Buy: Berkshire Mall, Lanesborough, 445-5812,

Bug Busters Computer Services: 2 South St., Pittsfield, 496-8272,

Compuworks Limited: 1 Fenn St., Pittsfield, 499-0607,

Mad Macs: 317 North St., Pittsfield, 445-5858,

Nerdz for Hire: 146 South St., Pittsfield, 499-9297,

Staples: 555 Hubbard Ave., Pittsfield, 496-9042,

Onsite Tech Services: 666 Pecks Road, Pittsfield, 822-8002, 35 Silver St., Great Barrington, 854-1568,

Total Access Computers: 69 Columbia St., Adams, 664-4250,


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