It is recommended to always have Anti-Virus software installed on your computer to reduce the chance of getting an infection. You can be infected by viruses, worms and Trojans, all of which can cause varying degrees of problems with your computer, from stealing personal information, to popping up unwanted messages.
It is important to note that new viruses are being written all the time, so it is important that you download the latest virus definitions regularly to keep your software up to date, thus reducing the risk of infection.
What is a Virus?
A Virus is a program that infects other programs on the same computer to propagate itself. They can do serious damage, such as erasing your files or your whole hard drive, or they may just do annoying things. Viruses cannot spread to a new computer without human assistance, such as if you trade files with someone else and give them an infected file (such as on a floppy, by an email attachment, or downloading a file from a webpage).
What is a Worm?
Worms, like viruses, are programs that propagate themselves. Unlike a Virusthey can spread themselves over the network from one computer to the next without human interaction. Worms take advantage of automatic file sending and receiving features found on many modern computers and often exploit known vulnerabilities in operating systems, such as Windows.
What is a Trojan?
A Trojan Horse is a malicious program that is usually disguised as something quite innocent (ie: free software, mp3s, etc.), hence itís name. Trojans can damage and compromise the security of your computer. It is not capable of replicating or copying itself and is usually passed on by someone emailing it to you of through file sharing. As soon as its opened the program will run causing all kinds of havoc, often without the user even knowing its there until the damage has been done. They are often used to steal passwords and confidential data, but can also be used to delete or modify files or use your computer to perform Denial of Service (DoS) attacks on internet sites. Trojans are executable files, so beware of files the have the following extensions that you download or are emailed: exe, com, vbs, bat, pif, scr, lnk, js.
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