All Boils Down to the Code
A computer virus is simply a set of computer instructions
or computer code that is written by some unscrupulous person.
This code is attached to some part of the normal computer
operating system or computer program. Instructions in this
code tell the computer to perform some task. This task is
often a destructive one, such as deleting important information
or crashing the hard disk. However, there are other benign
viruses that may be only a slight aggravation. Some viruses
have been known to do nothing more than put a large happy
face on your computer screen.
How Does a Computer Get a Virus?
Just as a human virus is passed from person to person, a computer
virus is passed from computer to computer. A virus can be
attached to any file that you copy to your computer. If you
download files from the Internet or copy programs or files
from friends on floppy disks, you are very susceptible to
viruses. Actually, anytime that you download files or put
a floppy disk into your computer, you are susceptible to viruses.
viruses are spread through e-mail. Generally, you cannot get
a virus from simply reading e-mail. Certain types of today's
viruses, like Klez, are different. They are very dangerous
because you do not even have to open an e-mail attachment
to release the virus. Just opening the e-mail itself can release
the dangerous bug.
normal circumstances, a virus becomes active when you execute
a program that contains the virus. For instance, if you download
a program from the Internet and it is infected with a virus,
the virus will attack your computer when you activate the
program. Viruses are everywhere. Although it is rare, viruses
have even been found in commercial shrink-wrapped software.
Do I Know If My PC Has a Virus?
The trigger that activates the virus can be almost anything.
For instance, the virus can be activated the minute it is
installed. On the other hand, it may initiate its dirty work
the next time you start your computer. In many cases, a virus
resides inside your computer in an inactive state, waiting
for a certain event to happen. Like having a physical virus
in your body, you can have a virus in your computer system
and not even know it. A virus can wait patiently in your system
and attack only on a certain date. Of course, in the time
between the moment you contracted the virus and the time it
made itself known to you, you may have innocently spread the
virus to others.
Viruses Before They Attack
A computer virus can do extensive damage. It can crash your
hard disk. It can destroy all or some of your data. Many viruses
do weird little things that adversely affect your computer.
The most usual symptom of a computer virus is erratic behavior.
The destruction can happen at any rate of speed and can affect
almost any part of the computer. Viruses can spread quickly
through today's intricate cyber world. If your computer starts
to act a little weird, the first thing to do is to check for
you are smart, you will stop viruses before they enter your
computer. You can do this by purchasing a good virus protection
program. Such a program will check all files for viruses.
Once installed, an antivirus program can be set to work in
the background. It will check all files before they enter
your computer and will alert you if a virus is detected before
it contaminates your system. If a virus is detected, your
antivirus program will quarantine or eliminate it so that
it cannot harm your computer.
very careful to purchase a virus protection program that matches
your operating system. If you use a Mac, buy a virus protection
program made especially for Macintosh computers. If you use
Windows 98 or Me or XP, select a program that was written
specifically for your operating system. Don't try to use a
virus protection program that was written for Windows 95 on
a Windows XP machine; this will really mess up your computer.
Virus Protection Software Up-to-date
New viruses are written everyday. It seems that there are
many people in the world who have a lot of time on their hands
and a slightly warped idea of how to use their intelligence.
Luckily, companies like McAfee, Symantec, and Panda Software
are constantly scouting for new viruses and updating their
antivirus software tools. They use any of a growing arsenal
of weapons to detect and fight viruses.
order to take advantage of these new antivirus shields, you
must update your antivirus program on a regular basis. The
company that manufactured your antivirus software will provide
constant updates as they find new viruses. You should make
arrangements to get these updates regularly to be sure that
your computer is completely protected. Go to the Web site
of your antivirus manufacturer to download new virus updates,
or definitions as they are often called. Some newer antivirus
programs automatically update your antivirus protection as
well as the antivirus definitions when you log onto the Internet
through a process called live update or online virus scan.
you purchase a virus protection program, be sure to check
out the company's update program. Some manufacturers give
you free updates; others do not. If you already own a virus
protection program but have never updated it, see the documentation
that came with your program or contact the company that created
your program to check on their update policy. If your program
did not come with free updates or if you have already used
up your free updates, you can purchase additional updates,
usually for a nominal fee.
keep you protected as much as possible, I recommend purchasing
antivirus software that updates automatically. If you update
your virus protection manually, a weekly update is mandatory;
a daily update may be a good idea in today's virus-infested
and the people who write them are intriguing subjects. For
more detailed information on the different types of viruses
and how they work, visit the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center
or check out the Virus Bulletin. Although the Virus Bulletin
is a technical journal, it will give you good solid information
and links to virus information and antivirus products.