A computer virus is a software program designed to cause some type of harm to your system. Viruses come through infected email messages, email attachments, and downloaded files. An anti-virus program, kept consistently up to date, is a good defense against viruses.
- Malware (malicious software) is a general term used to describe any program designed to cause harm. Some common types of malware include viruses, worms and Trojans.
- Virus: A malicious program that attaches itself to and "infects" other software applications and files, disrupting computer operations. Viruses often carry a "payload", which is an executable script designed to damage, delete or steal information from a computer.
- Worm: A worm is similar to a virus but with an additional dangerous element. Like a virus, a worm can make copies of itself, but it does not require a person to send it along to other computers. A worm spreads rapidly across a network without having to attach itself to another program.
- Trojan: A malicious program disguised or hidden within another program that appears to be safe (much like the myth of the Trojan horse). When a Trojan is executed, it allows attackers to gain unauthorized access to the computer in order to steal information and cause harm. Trojans commonly spread through email attachments and Internet downloads.
- Install Antivirus software on your computer
- Keep your antivirus program running at all times.
- Keep your Antivirus software license current.
- Only open email and attachments from known senders.
- Configure the program to check all incoming files automatically, and to run a daily check on all of your computer's files.
- A number of vendors sell anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, including McAffee, Norton, and Symantec.
- No anti-virus or anti-spyware program is foolproof, though.
- If you receive an attachment from someone you do not know or are not expecting, do not open it, delete it.