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.
Stay safe on your computer by using the following tips:
- 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.