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Victory over Viruses:

First, let's clear-up some misconceptions about computer viruses. Computer viruses are very rare. Although you should be cautious and aware of viruses, they are no reason not to surf the Web. The vast majority of viruses are actually fake, or phreaks, so named because their sole intend is to phreak you out, and do no actual harm to your system at all. Somewhat of a computing practical joke.

Urban legends run more rampant than the viruses themselves. Email chain letters start flowing warning of threats and new viruses producing hoaxes such as the Good Times virus, and PC'ers favorite babble is about how they rid their system from Monkey B!

Fact: You cannot get a virus by viewing a Web page or reading email!

There are those viruses, however, that are designed with the intend to cause a great deal of harm to a computer system. Once your system is infected, a virus might delete files, rewrite your hard disk partition tables (which sometimes requires a full format to correct), trash memory, lock up the computer, slow down your computer, or do a variety of other things. Not only that, but the virus might be programmed to do only certain things at random times, so as to not attract suspicion.

So how do you contract a virus? A virus is a program and it has to find a way to get in to your system. The most common type of virus is know as a trojan horse, aptly named as it hides or disguises itself as another application. Some may also be received via email as a file attached with the user downloading it unaware of what it is. Once in your system, the virus has to be executed where it self installs and sets about reaping its havoc.

Viruses can effect your system in different ways depended on the type it is, a Boot Sector Virus, a File Infected Virus or a Partition Table Virus.

Boot Sector Viruses: These types of viruses spread whenever you boot your computer. If you boot from an infected floppy, the virus tries to install itself on your hard drive. Then whenever you boot from your hard drive, the virus tries to install itself on any unprotected floppy disks. From this you can see how easy it is for a virus to spread, and therefore, how important it is to keep floppies write-protected whenever possible. 

File Infected Viruses: These viruses attach themselves to executable programs. Once you execute the infected file, the virus copies itself to computer memory and then tries to attach itself to any executable files it can find.

Partition Table Viruses: When a PC is turned on and boots from an infected hard disk, the virus is copied to that PC's RAM. From there, it infects the boot sector of any floppy disks you use that aren't write-protected.

Protecting your System:

Just like any virus, the key here is to use good protection! Prevention is always better than cure:

1.Purchase a good virus protection program. These will constantly scan your system alerting you of any threats, then clean and remove any infected files. Most of the major manufactures offer excellent programs such as McAffee and Norton.

2.Ok hands up! Who has a virus scanner and not updated it? New viruses are continuously hitting the scene, and unless you update your virus scanner it will be useless. Follow the software's instructions on updating, this is usually free and completed over the Internet.

3.Only download files from a reputable source. Scan it before executing.

4.Be cautious of software purchased from flea markets, etc. and avoid pirated software copies.

The end result here is that computer viruses do exist, and can do harm to a system. However, they are extremely rare and by purchasing a relatively inexpensive virus protection program you will remain very safe, keep the software updated and don't let the virus threat stop you from enjoying the World Wide Web!

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