Virus - a short definition

A virus is a malicious, self-replicating program that inserts itself into an executable file or a document. Opening infected executable files starts a virus, allowing it to inject its code into other executables or to perform other malicious activities. When it is done, a virus starts the original program to trick the user into believing that everything is okay. The potential malicious effects of viruses are extremely dangerous and often include such things as:

*deleting or renaming files and folders

*causing a system crash at a specific time,

*display unwanted graphics or text messages (uncommon, but still possible),

*destroying or compromising the data stored on your PC.

Viruses do not have to perform any destructive actions or do anything but multiply themselves. However, they may still be responsible for such problems as:

*slowing down your PC speed,

*infected files may not be able to open anymore,


Some viruses actually terminate themselves after execution once they are finished spreading their infection, others stay in your computer's memory and try to infect more files. Worms and Trojan horses are also commonly named viruses, but that is actually a mistake.

Virus infections

All viruses have to have a host executable or document file to spread. The executable file must be started and documents must be opened for the virus to work. Until that happens, the system is safe. As typical viruses are generally very small, they cannot perform many complex actions.

Viruses usually spread themselves via P2P networks where you can find many thousands of infected files to download, or by email (email viruses). It is also possible to contract the virus from any other source where we get a document file or a .exe file from.

Email Viruses

Email viruses are similar to both classical viruses and worms. Basically, they are a stand alone program that spreads itself via email. In order to infect a system, email viruses require either the user's action (opening a file) or an email client that runs executable attachments without asking for the user's approval. Once the exe. file has been opened, the virus accesses the user's address book and sends emails infected with the virus to everyone in the mailing list. The same essential thing can happen with chat programs such as MIRC where a virus can be sent to another chatter without the sender knowing what is going on.

Fighting with virus infections

Viruses can be fought in the same ways as worms. In order to detect and remove them, you should:

*use good antivirus software such as Symantec Norton AntiVirus or McAfee - they offer real-time protection against viruses and are able to kill them the moment they try to enter your system,

*install a good firewall with email protection features to stop email viruses from spreading,

*use simple safety precautions such as not opening files from unknown sources and not opening file attachments unless you are 100 percent sure they are legitimate - in case you're not sure about that, ask the sender for confirmation.

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