What is a computer virus and what can we do to prevent them?

22 February 2023

Computer viruses are malicious programs that can cause harm to computer systems, networks, and data. These viruses can spread from one computer to another through various means, such as email attachments, downloads, and infected software. Once a virus infects a computer, it can damage files, steal personal information, and even take control of the computer.

To prevent computer viruses, it is important to understand how they work and what steps can be taken to protect against them. This article will explore the different types of computer viruses, how they spread, and what can be done to prevent them.

Types of Computer Viruses

There are several types of computer viruses, including:

  1. File infectors: File infectors attach themselves to executable files and spread when those files are opened. They can cause damage to files and programs, and may even make a computer unusable.
  2. Boot sector viruses: Boot sector viruses infect the boot sector of a computer’s hard drive and can prevent the computer from booting up properly. They are often spread through infected disks or removable media.
  3. Macro viruses: Macro viruses infect documents and spreadsheets, and are spread through email attachments or downloads. They can cause damage to files and may also steal personal information.
  4. Worms: Worms are standalone programs that can spread rapidly from one computer to another through networks, email, and other means. They can cause damage to networks and may even cause them to crash.

How Computer Viruses Spread

Computer viruses can spread in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Email attachments: Virus-infected email attachments are a common means of spreading computer viruses. Users should never open attachments from unknown sources or from senders they do not recognise.
  2. Downloads: Virus-infected downloads can be found on many websites, including file-sharing sites. Users should only download software and files from reputable sources.
  3. Removable media: Virus-infected disks and USB drives can spread viruses to other computers when they are inserted.
  4. Network sharing: Computer viruses can spread through shared files and folders on a network.

Preventing Computer Viruses

There are several steps that can be taken to prevent computer viruses, including:

  1. Install antivirus software: Antivirus software is designed to detect and remove computer viruses. Users should install reputable antivirus software and keep it up-to-date.
  2. Keep software up-to-date: Software updates often include security patches that address vulnerabilities that viruses could exploit.
  3. Use strong passwords: Strong passwords can help prevent unauthorised access to computers and networks.
  4. Backup data regularly: Regularly backing up data can help protect against data loss in the event of a virus infection.
  5. Be cautious of emails and downloads: Users should be careful of email attachments and downloads from unknown sources and only download software and files from reputable sources.
  6. Use a firewall: A firewall can help block unauthorised access to a computer or network.

Computer viruses can cause significant damage to computer systems, networks, and data.

Understanding how they work and how they spread is the first step in preventing them. By following best practices for computer security, such as installing antivirus software, keeping software up-to-date, and being cautious of emails and downloads, users can help protect themselves against computer viruses. It is important to remember that preventing viruses requires ongoing vigilance and a commitment to maintaining a secure computing environment.

Learn all about Cyber Security and protect you and your business with Cyber Learn from Digicomm. Find out more here...

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