What is a computer virus?
Computer viruses are small software programs that are designed to spread from one computer to another and to interfere with computer operation.
What do computer viruses do?
Through the course of using the Internet and your computer, you may have come in to contact with computer viruses. Many computer viruses are stopped before they can start, but there is still an ever growing concern as to what do computer viruses do and the list of common computer virus symptoms. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on your computer, use your email program to spread itself to other computers, or even erase everything on your hard disk.
Computer viruses are often spread by attachments in email messages or instant messaging messages. That is why it is essential that you never open email attachments unless you know who it's from and you are expecting it.
Viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files.
Computer viruses also spread through downloads on the Internet. They can be hidden in illicit software or other files or programs you might download.
To help avoid computer viruses, it's essential that you keep your computer current with the latest updates and antivirus tools, stay informed about recent threats, run your computer as a standard user (not as administrator), and that you follow a few basic rules when you surf the Internet, download files, and open attachments.
Once a virus is on your computer, its type or the method it used to get there is not as important as removing it and preventing further infection.
What is Virus Protection Software?
Most virus protection utilities now bundle anti-spyware and anti-malware capabilities to go along with anti-virus protection. Internet security suites go a step further by including additional capabilities like anti-spam, anti-phishing, firewall, file protection and PC optimization.
What is spyware?
With so many types of malicious software being spread around the Internet, it is important to be aware of what spyware is and what spyware does. Spyware is a general term used to describe software that performs certain behaviors, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent first, such as:
- Collecting personal information
- Changing the configuration of your computer
Spyware is often associated with software that displays advertisements (called adware) or software that tracks personal or sensitive information.
Trading tracking for services
That does not mean all software that provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music service, but you "pay" for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, you may have decided that it is a fair tradeoff. You might also agree to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.
What does spyware do
Knowing what spyware does can be a very difficult process because most spyware is designed to be difficult to remove. Other kinds of spyware make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer slow down or crash.
These programs can change your web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser you don't need or want. They also make it very difficult for you to change your settings back to the way you had them.
How to prevent spyware
The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone who uses your computer) understand what the software will do and have agreed to install the software on your computer.
A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file sharing program.
Whenever you install something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is documented, but it might appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.