What Is A Virus ?
by Karl Davis
A virus is a script or programmed code that has been written with the intention of wreaking havoc on your system and others. A virus can replicate itself and spread through your entire system within hours of activasion. If you are connected to the Internet you are at risk from files that you download and attachments that are sent to you via email, which can contain a harmful virus, sometimes even without the senders knowledge.
Even trusted sources who you believe to be reliable, could have been compromised by a virus on their system/s. It is *your* responsibility to practice safe computing and that means you should have an up-to-date virus scanner protecting your system/s. You need to educate any person, including children that are using your computer to be vigilant and not to drop your defences.
Viruses have become far more sophisticated over the years and Some viruses can alter original files, others can infect the bios of your machine, or the master boot record of your hard drives, which can erase all of the data on your hard drive.
They can be programmed to launch at a specific point in time ie lie dormant on your system till a certain date and then activate or copy themselves and send them on to every person that you have contact with. This has become widespread with viruses such as the "I love you" and "Sircam" virus.
These two have gained world-wide recognition because of their payload, as they send duplicates of themselves to every person named in your address book (contacts)
Another type of virus is often referred to as trojan virus, they can , once activated allow access to your system remotely without your consent or knowledge, or rendor your machine useless and in-operable. In any case it is vitally important that you have the means to defend yourself against attacks of all varieties.
There are free online scanning websites such as the one available from Symantec and a variety of virus scanner programs that you can download for free, and get updates for (see Useful Links below).
One of the leading authorities on viruses is Symantec, and with a Program called Norton Anti-Virus they protect millions of computers around the world.
They run a dedicated centre where they monitor constantly for new viruses as they appear, and they release updated virus definitions files for the end-user to download on a regular basis.
They offer a free online scan but you can also buy their software, and you do get protection from the best (in my honest opinion) anti-virus company in the world.
Finally, I want to deal with virus hoaxes which are often sent via email or messaging programs like MSN Messenger or ICQ. They often look innocent enough and will issue dire warnings such as not to ignore this email.
They may tell you to email all your contacts and pass it on etc. Do not be fooled or act too quickly as you should check the website of a reputable anti-virus provider first to verify whether the virus exists or not.
If you can not see the virus listed there, the odds of you being the first person to have received a "new" virus is extremely unlikely.
Do not send it on under any circumstances unless you can see a reference to a very new virus as that is exactly what the hoaxer is hoping for.
Do not post it in a newsgroup as that is even worse than sending it to your contacts because thousands of people could be reading your possible hoax.
Some of the links below offer free virus programs or scanning online
Norton Anti-Virus(Symantec) Free Online Scan Click Here then Then click the Scan for Viruses link.
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