We hear so much about computer viruses, but what are they really? A computer virus is a software program that can make copies of itself, that can cause mild or serious damage resulting in loss of data and or damage to programs stored on a computer. Infected files can find their way to your computer by any means of digital communication that is not just limited to e-mail.
The mysterious disappearance of your C: drive. Freezing and crashing for no reason at all. Documents suddenly increasing in size daily without you even changing anything in them.
There are different types of viruses including the following;
Program viruses can infect computer programs. The virus is activated when the infected program is run. If a copy of the program is made and run on another computer it will also contract the virus. Boot sector viruses infect diskettes and hard disks and become active when an infected disk is used to start the computer. When a computer is re-booted or the power is on while an infected diskette is in drive A the virus will then spread to the hard disk. Because the hard disk has become infected any and all other diskettes used in the computer will endure the same fate.
Macro viruses infect files through the macro programming capabilities of some newer programs. Macro viruses become active when an infected document is opened, and the program opening the document has its macro capabilities turned on. It then spreads to global settings for the application, so that other files or documents will become infected as they are opened. When any infected document is opened on another computer, the global settings used by that copy of the application will contract the same virus.
Computer owners have suffered countless losses through damage to their systems due to as many as forty thousand confirmed viruses. Destructive viruses such as "Melissa," and "love letter" pose serious threats to the computer world. New ones are discovered daily that can cause loss of data or may involve more expensive repairs. On the up-side more than half the people who experience computer viruses have been known to experience full data recovery.
Anti-Virus Software: Virus protection programs are useful but can give you a false sense of security. Installing virus protection software is recommended but should not be solely relied upon for the maximum possible protection. They help to screen out old viruses sent by e-mail but rarely screen out new, fast-spreading viruses that spread around the world within as little as a few hours.
Listed below are a few specific guidelines to help keep your data protected.
Virus protection software that has been installed should be updated often with the latest versions and patches.
Never take chances when opening files, simply bypass the file through updated virus checking software. If you frequently receive files and diskettes from others, you may want to scan more often - either daily or weekly.
If you have received a virus, be sure to notify the sender because they may not be aware of it and may be spreading it to other people's computers as well. Back up data regularly.