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Frequently Asked Computer Security Questions
In addition, many virus hoaxes also include a 'fix' that instructs the user to delete a certain file from their system. However, the file the hoax says is a virus is actually an important file needed by your computer.
By: Carmen West
Over the years, I have received many questions in regard to computer security. Below, are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Question: I'm new to the Internet and have been hearing a lot about viruses. I'm not exactly sure what they are. Can you help?
Answer: A virus is a small piece of software that attaches itself to 'real' software programs (executable code). Each time you launch the real program, the virus is also launched. The virus may then spread and attach itself to other programs and wreak havoc on your system.
The most widespread virus is an email virus. An email virus spreads through email attachments. It usually spreads by mailing itself to everyone within the email program's address book. It tricks the email recipient into believing the message was sent from someone they know.
Another type of program that is often thought of as a virus is a 'Trojan horse' program. However, it is not a virus. It is simply a computer program that acts like it's something it's not. For example, you may download a program that you think is a computer game. However, when you run the program, it may delete files on your hard drive. Trojan horses cannot automatically replicate themselves.
Another widespread program is known as a worm. A worm is actually a small piece of software that travels through vulnerable computer networks with security holes. The worm scans the network in search of other computers with security holes. It copies itself to each system it finds.
Although viruses can infect any type of executable code such as EXE files or DOC files, most media files such as GIF, JPG, BMP, MP3, WAV, AVI, MOV and TXT files are generally safe.
Although viruses can wreak havoc, computer virus hoaxes can also be damaging. Virus hoaxes may cause Internet users to begin to ignore all virus warnings. This can be harmful, as they are then left vulnerable to 'real' virus warnings.
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