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.
A 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.