What is a computer virus?
What are worms, macro viruses and Trojans?
A macro virus is embedded in a document instead of a program. Documents created in programs like Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel can be infected with macro viruses.
A Trojan Horse is a destructive program that pretends to be a useful one. Most Internet-acquired viruses are initially dropped by Trojans. The Trojan contains the virus code or program, which then infects your computer. So, although the Trojan itself might not be self-replicating, the virus it contains is. One of the worst types of Trojan horse is a program that claims to get rid of viruses, but instead introduces them onto your computer.
How do you get a virus?
With the Internet, there are more common ways to become infected:
WWW or FTP:
Unfortunately, programs like Microsoft Outlook have had major security holes exploited by e-mail viruses. MS Outlook tries to be user-friendly by automatically running scripts in e-mail messages. Microsoft has more information on this security problem at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms99-032.asp.
Hoax e-mail messages are constantly going around the Internet, saying that some important and well-known company has issued a warning about reading e-mail, usually identifying it as having a certain subject. These hoaxes play on people’s insecurities and lack of knowledge, because they instruct the recipient to forward the warning message to everyone they know. If he tells two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on...This is how these fake, virus warning messages are perpetuated.
CIAC Virus Myth and Hoaxes Site – http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html
Created as a public service by the Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) to educate people about virus myths and hoaxes.
Computer Virus Myths - http://www.kumite.com/myths/
Contains information about the newest hoaxes as well as background on computer viruses and myths, opinions and editorials, and recommended books and Web sites.
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and ICQ (I Seek You) programs have the ability to send and receive files. This is like downloading a file from Web or FTP that is infected. You must run the program before you will become infected.
How can I protect myself from getting a virus?
If you receive a file attachment in e-mail or chat, then check to see who it is from. If it is from someone you know, then you will probably be fine...unless that person doesn't take precautions for viruses. If your anti-virus and anti- Trojan software is current, you can run a virus scan. If a virus is not detected after running the scan, then it is probably safe.
Remember, if you don't open or run an infected file, then you can't become infected.
How can I find out if I have a virus or Trojan? How do I get rid of it?
These programs contain a list of viruses (or Trojans), for which they scan your computer. They also contain inoculation procedures, so that if a known virus (or Trojan) is detected, it can be removed.
New viruses are being written all of the time, which is why it is important to keep your anti-virus software current. An anti-virus program that was purchased new 8 months ago is probably useless, because it will not detect any viruses that have been created since the program was written.
Most anti-virus programs now have an "Automatic Update" feature, which allows you to update the program easily. This should be run frequently, such as once a month.
Here are some protection programs that are available. These three, Norton,
McAfee Virus Information home
Data Fellows website