7 On Your Side: Online Viruses

"Yeah, it's easier," says Stacey Williams of Brownsboro about shopping online. "A lot easier, you find a lot of sales," say Mercedes Williams of Tyler. The two friends consider themselves regular online shoppers, making them prime targets for online viruses. "My dad keeps telling me, 'you've got to get that anti-virus!'," says Stacey. "We've gotten [viruses] several times," says Mercedes. "The holiday shopping is going to be bad because you're going to be on there and you're going to see advertisements for X-Boxes and jewelry and they're all going to be fake and they're all going to be bad," says Ryan Fulsom, Head Repair Tech for CPU Wholesale Computer Parts in Tyler. Fulsom says in the last six months he's fixed computers with as many as 4,000 viruses. "Say you're looking for cars and all of a sudden these pop ups seem to be all about cars, it's because they're tracking you," says Fulsom. Click on the pop ups and in some cases you're accepting their terms of agreement allowing them to install unwanted programs on your computer. You can rid viruses and spyware on your computer on your own. Programs like Adaware, Spybot, Microsoft Anti-Spyware are all available online.CPU says most if not all of the programs are free. "Virus programs can only look for what they know exist. That's why you have to keep them updated and run scans weekly or bi-weekly depending on how much internet activity you have," says Fulsom. So far it's a blockbuster beginning to the online holiday shopping season, up 35% this year. By being a smart surfer now, you can avoid a sea of unwanted computer problems down the road.

CPU also says going to adult websites, opening unknown emails and downloading songs from sites that aren't reputable are key ways to get viruses on your computer. You should back up the data on your computer in case it is attacked.

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Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com