Computer Virus

What Exactly is a Computer Virus?

In its most basic form, a computer virus is a program that attaches itself to your computer without your knowledge. They can take many forms and may do many different things. In the early days of the internet, the first computer viruses were written by hackers who just wanted to see what they could do; they would write programs to, for example, change grades on a university computer system or defeat a password protected computer system.

While these programs are malicious, they are designed to defeat the protections of a specific computer, not infect many computers on a wide scale. Most computer viruses that are written today are mostly written to vandalize a large group of computers. For example, a typical virus may change your access codes to your computer, no longer letting you log in or just do annoying things, such as play music at weird times or suddenly open or close programs. Sometimes, rather than as viruses, if you think of your computer being haunted by a poltergeist, you will be getting closer to what’s actually going on. In their worst form, a computer virus can completely erase your hard drive or destroy certain areas of your hard drive.

There are several preventative steps that you can take to ensure your protection from computer viruses:

  1. Don’t invite viruses into your computer. This means being careful what sites you download from – many sites that promise “free” content are really nothing more than virus delivery vehicles.

  1. Don’t open email attachments that you’re not expecting unless they’ve been thoroughly scanned by an antivirus program. Certain computer viruses can infect the victim’s email account, so that whenever that person sends attachments, the virus will embed itself within that attachment. Certain viruses can actually send emails on their own, claiming to be from someone you know when, in fact, that person has no knowledge of it.

  1. Load virus protection software onto your computer. There are several very good manufacturers of both free and subscription-based virus software. Making sure that your computer is “inoculated” against potential threats will go a long way toward securing your whole system.

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