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by J Camerlin

Unfortunately for us, there are many people out there who get a rise out of writing small programs that find ways onto our computers and in most cases destroy personal file, data or steal out identity. This article explains some steps we can take to defend ourselves.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a small program that piggybacks on legitimate programs. It is called a virus because it shares the traits of a biological virus where is passes from one computer to another in the same manner a biological virus passes from one person to another person. Once a computer virus is running, it can infect other programs and documents.

Types of computer viruses:

There are many types of viruses but the most common are:

- Viruses: a small software program that attaches itself to other programs and/or documents
- E-mail viruses: these viruses move around through email and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to people in the victim's address book
- Trojan horses: this is a computer program that claims to do one thing but instead does another such as erase your hard drive
-Worms: this is a program that finds a small hole in computer network security and replicates itself on to other computers on that network

How does a virus get into our computer and how do they spread?

Some of the most common ways a virus can get on your computer are:

- Downloading a program from an unknown source and running it
- Opening a file attachment from an e-mail
- Sharing infected files from one computer to another on a floppy disk
- Opening an electronic greeting card, audio and video files

What are the signs of a virus, am I infected?

- Your computer runs slower than normal
- The computer stops or locks up
- Your computer crashes and restart every few minutes
- The computer restarts on its own and does not run properly
- Applications on your computer do not run properly
- Hard drives or disk are not accessible
- Your computer cannot print properly
- Unusual error messages appear
- Menus and dialog boxes are distorted

What kinds of damage can a virus do?

The damage a computer virus can do depends on the type of virus it is. Here are some common threats.

- They can delete or change files. Some viruses will delete all your files or even reformat your hard drive making your computer unusable
- Other viruses will steal personal information like credit card numbers, account numbers and passwords
- Some viruses will slow down your computer dramatically
- Some viruses change security settings allowing hackers to gain access to your computer and steal information
- Other viruses like worms infect computers on a network

What you can do to protect your computer from viruses?

There are number of ways to protect your computer from a virus:

- Do not open any attachments your received in an e-mail even if you know the person who sent it. That person may not be aware they are sending an infected files
- If you receive an e-mail with an attachment from some one your do not know, DELETE the e-mail right away
- Before you copy a file to your computer, scan it with an anti-virus program
- If you download a file from the Internet, copy it to your hard drive first, scan it with an anti-virus program before to open the file or run it
- if some sends you a greeting card or a joke that you have to launch to view, be awry and stay on the safe side and do not open it
- The best defense against computer viruses and to use an anti-virus program that will scan your e-mail, act as a firewall, hard drive and keep up-to-date with the latest viruses. It is reported that there are over 500 new viruses discovered each month

Fortunately for us, there are a number of software programs available to prevent, detect and kill computer viruses. I recommend the one below, I use it and it is one of the most popular anti-virus programs around.

Click Here to Protect Your Digital Life with McAfee® Total Protection™


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