A computer virus is a self-multiplying computer program that spreads by inserting copies of itself into other executable code or documents through legitimate programs. A computer virus acts in a way parallel to a natural virus, which spreads by inserting itself into living cells. Broadening the similarity, the insertion of a virus into the program is known as an "infection", and the infected file, or executable code that is not part of a file, is called a "host". Viruses are one of the numerous types of malicious software or malware. In common jargon, the term virus often goes on to refer to ‘worms’, ‘trojan horses’ and other sorts of malware.
A Trojan horse is a simple but malicious computer program that is camoflagued as or snagged inside a authentic software. The term comes from the classical myth of the ‘Trojan Horse’. They may look useful or interesting (or at the very least harmless. For eg. It might claim to be a game) to an unsuspecting user, but are actually harmful when carried out, it might go as far as erasing your whole hard drive. Often the program is simply known as ‘trojan’.
A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to duplicate itself. A copy of the worm searches within the network for another machine that has a particular security hole. It copies itself on to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts copying itself from there to other systems and it does so without any interference. In general, worms damage the network and consume bandwidth, while viruses infect or corrupt files on a targeted computer. Viruses generally do not affect network performance, as their activities are mostly confined within the target computer itself.
The following are some good ways of stopping your computer from getting a computer virus infection:
Turn off the feature that allows automatic opening of email attachments, never open attachments from unidentified sources or attachments you are not expecting.
- Always scan diskettes, CD's and any other removable media before using them.
- Always scan files downloaded from the Internet before using them
- Do not install any unapproved software on your computer.
- Make sure that your virus pattern files are updated.
- Make sure that your computer is patched with the latest security updates.
- Scan your computer on a habitual basis
Always keep in mind that just because your computer is acting strangely or one of your programs doesn't work right, this does NOT mean that your computer has a virus.
Extreme measures such as formatting your hard drive should be avoided. They usually don't fix a virus infection, and may end up doing more harm than good, unless you're very knowledgeable about the effects of the particular virus you're dealing with.
If you haven't already installed a reliable anti-virus program on your computer, do that first. Many problems which are thought to have occurred due to a virus infection are actually caused by software configuration blunders or other problems that have nothing to do with a virus.
If you do get a virus in your machine, follow the directions in your anti-virus program to clean it. If you have a backup of the corrupted files, use those to restore the files. Check the backups before you re-install them to make sure they aren’t infected as well.
For further assistance, check the web site and support services of your anti-virus program.
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