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Computer Virus FAQs

Last Updated: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 > Related Articles

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Learn the definition of a computer virus and how to protect yourself.


Online forums are full of discussions on computer viruses, but what exactly is a virus? The following information will help you better understand what a virus is and how to protect your computer and mobile devices.


What is a virus?


Briefly, three different items are commonly called a virus.

  • A true virus is a program that tries to cripple your computer by infecting key files and spreading itself onto other files. It might change critical files or perform unwanted functions, like erasing your hard drive.
  • A Trojan Horse will leave your computer accessible for other people to use. Once a Trojan Horse is installed they may bounce through your machine as a way to cover its tracks and do other damage. A Trojan Horse commonly gives access to all the information stored on your hard drive, so the invader can read what you have, or use your computer as a storage server.
  • A worm will travel from system to system and gather information and send it to others.

How do I keep from getting a virus?


Aside from infecting your computer, viruses like to spread to other computers. Some have been known to read an address book, and then email itself to everyone in that book. It can also attach itself to every outgoing mail.

To protect yourself, follow these steps:

  • Do not open an email attachment if you do not know the sender, or the message text, or if attachment name seems odd.
  • Scan all attachments and files you receive, and frequently update anti-virus program.
  • Do not download from sites you do not know, or sites that seem questionable.

If I get a virus, what do I do?


Do as little as possible on that machine, because every click could spread the infected program. A web search will usually turn up several resolutions for your particular virus. We recommend you install Cox Security Suite Powered by McAfee┬« to prevent infiltrations.

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