Editor’s note: David Griffin is president of ProfIT/CSDanger lurks close at hand. Viruses, worms, spies and Trojans attack us at every turn. Email has crossed the line from friend to foe.

Recently, viruses with monikers like MydoomF and NetSky began replicating itself on tens of thousands of home and business computers. And even longtime computer users are getting fooled.

The recent onslaught of email-born viruses requires that we rethink how we approach email. We must become skeptics, wary of all of the trickery that hackers are capable of as they enter our computer system through email, Instant Messenger, infected Web sites and through vulnerabilities in our own computer’s operating system.

Viruses are more difficult than ever to detect, as hackers make infected emails appear to come from friends and family. The latest viruses and worms, like MyDoom, SoBig and MSBlaster send email to everyone in your address book and use the names in your address book as the From information. This makes it almost impossible to determine the origin of the virus.

MyDoom even makes the virus, contained in a program information file (.pif) appear as a perfectly innocent text (.txt) file to the email reader.

All is not lost. You can still protect against the ever growing number of viruses you face daily. Here are some simple Internet rules for this brave and dangerous new world of technology that will protect your computer against viruses and control the damage if a virus does slip through.

Install and use a reliable virus protection software package: Most of these applications can regularly update their database over the Internet, automatically keeping your protection up-to-date and your computer safe as the threats evolve. A few companies, including OpenAntiVirus and AVG Anti-Virus even offer a free virus protection option.

Set your virus software up to automatically update the virus signature files daily: Invaders multiply and mutate rapidly so it is important that you keep up with them.

Audit your virus logs weekly: Virus protection software puts information about notable events into log files, including information about detected viruses. Reviewing these logs ensures that the latest virus data files and scan engines are in place and operating properly. Most virus software products require that you pay an annual subscription fee for the virus data files and require upgrades to the latest version every couple of years for the scan engines to continue to work successfully.

Run a complete virus scan on all of your files at least weekly: This will catch viruses that may have slipped through.

Back up your data and your system configuration (system registry file) daily: If you get caught off guard by a virus that shuts down your computer system, this backup disk will get you up and running again quickly.

Be wary of attachments: Never open an attachment that is a screen saver (.scr), program file, (.exe, .com), or program information file (.pif) unless you are absolutely certain you know they are safe. The safest assumption is that they are not safe.

David Griffin is President of Charlotte-based ProfIT/CS, which specializes in providing dependable computer systems and processes for small to mid-sized companies. He can be reached at 704-545-5456 or dgriffin@profitcs.com