What is a computer virus?

Computer viruses are not much different than a biological virus acting very much the same kinds that make you sick. Biological viruses are persistently nasty, keeping you from functioning normally, and often requires something powerful to get rid of it.

A computer virus is very similar:  Designed to relentlessly replicate, computer viruses infect your programs and files, altering the way your computer operates or stopping it from working altogether. As an example, in 2009, it is estimated that the "Conficker" virus infected more than 10 million computers. Tens of thousands of computer viruses now travel and infect computers over the Internet, and everyday new computer viruses are discovered that need addressing.

How is a computer virus contracted?

No matter who you are, or how much knowledge you have on this subject, anyone is susceptible to contract computer viruses on their laptops, desktops, irrespective of their platforms. Normal internet activities by the average user are average pathways to infection:

  • Sharing music, files or photos with other users

  • Visiting an infected Web site

  • Opening spam email or an email attachment

  • Downloading free games, toolbars, media players and other system utilities

  • Installing mainstream software applications without fully reading license agreements

What does a computer virus do?

Some computer viruses are programmed to harm your computer by damaging programs, deleting files, or reformatting the hard drive. Others simply replicate themselves or flood a network with traffic, making it impossible to perform any internet activity. Even less harmful computer viruses can significantly disrupt your system’s performance, sapping computer memory and causing frequent computer crashes.

What are the symptoms?

  • Slow computer performance

  • Erratic computer behavior

  • Unexplained data loss

  • Frequent computer crashes

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