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Understanding the Ins and Outs of Computer Viruses

There are all kinds of problems that can cause problems for a computer and impact the way a system runs. Malware is harmful programming code designed to create havoc on computer systems. The most common types of malware are worms, trojan horses, back door entry and last, but not least, the good old common virus.

Often these different forms of malware which attack computers are grouped into a singular category referred to as ‘viruses’. This can be confusing because not all harmful code is necessarily a virus.

• Different forms of malware

It is important to understand the differences in the various types of malware because this will help you be better prepared to protect your computer from being infected; or if you weren’t able to prevent infection, knowing which kind of malware got into your system will be key to finding the appropriate method to remove the harmful elements from your infected computer.

• Differences between trojan horse and virus

A trojan horse is an executable file that disguises itself as a useful program which appeals to the user. Once installed and activated it can cause havoc as a running program application. A computer virus is a bit different because it is a self-replicating type of code that affixes itself to a host file, sometimes the code is harmless, but most of the time the code is malicious and can do considerable damage to a computer system.

In order for the computer virus to be activated there typically needs some sort of action to be taken by the user. Once the action is taken, the virus is launched and begins to harm files and begin duplicating itself. A virus can be compared to a parasite, it is essentially harmless until it “bites” the host carrying it; in this case your computer.

A primary difference between the virus and the trojan horse is a virus cannot function on its own since it needs to attach to another file to be able to successfully infect a computer and replicate itself and send itself to other computers. A trojan horse can operate on its own since it is a program in itself, it is not something else embedded in another program like the virus is.

• Protection from viruses

Viruses can cause considerable damage. Computer users should be aware that there are several ways to protect their systems. There are many good proprietary and free virus protection programs available you can install that will do the trick. Once you choose virus protection, it is essential to make sure its kept updated because new viruses appear daily and you’ll want to ensure virus protection is current enough to combat any new viruses which may have emerged.

Another thing to remember is while the majority of viruses find themselves in the Microsoft Windows operating system, this does not mean other operating systems such as the Mac and Unix/Linux are virus-free or immune to becoming infected. Since Windows dominates the market, virus authors usually target this operating system more frequently.

Essentially, no matter what kind of operating system is running, it is important to not fall into a false sense of security in believing a computer can’t be infected because all of them are vulnerable on some level.

Being proactive where malware is concerned will significantly lower the risk of your computer being infected. If you make a concentrated effort to protect your computer you will significantly reduce the chances of being afflicted with a computer virus.

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