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A computer virus is a program that attaches itself to overwrites andor otherwise replaces another program in order to reproduce itself without the knowledge of the computer user Generally the first thing a virus does is attach itself to other executable files in such a way that the virus code is in effect when the infected files are run Viruses may be written to multiply to damage other programs or to alter certain data A computer virus is nothing more than a computer program that is coded to remain hidden in your computer The virus takes advantage of the operating system to copy itself onto other files or disks When a new disk is inserted into an infected computer the virus then copies itself onto files on that disk When an infected disk is inserted into another computer the virus then copies itself onto files on that computers hard drive The cycle continues as long as files are shared between computers Booting your computer with an infected floppy disk is one of the most common was of catching a virus Downloading a file from the Internet or an online service is another common way of catching a computer virus Most reputable Internet sites and online services now scan all their files for viruses but that still does not guarantee that all their files will be virus free You can also catch computer viruses from E-mail attachments While you can not catch a virus from simply reading an E-mail message viruses can be spread through programs or office application files that may be sent as attachments to E-mails Always save and scan any E-mail attachment for viruses before opening the attachment The most important thing you should do to protect your system and your data is to install a reputable anti-virus program on your computer There are many companies that currently provide this type of software and many of them offer free
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