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Computer viruses infect a computer in three basic ways when a user 1 opens an infected file 2 runs an infected program or 3 powers on the computer with an infected disk in a disk drive Today the most common way a computer becomes infected with a virus is when a user opens an infected e-mail attachmentc Methods that guarantee a computer or network is totally safe from computer viruses simply do not exist Users can take several precautions however to protect their home and work computers from viruses The following paragraphs discuss a variety of precautionary measures designed to protect computers from viruses Do not start a computer with a floppy disk in drive A - unless you are certain the disk is an uninfected boot disk All floppy disks contain a boot sector During the startup process the computer attempts to execute the boot sector on a disk in drive A Even if the attempt is not successful a virus on the floppy disks boot sector can infect the hard disk on a computer Never open an e-mail message attachment unless you are expecting the attachment and the e-mail message is from a trusted source A trusted source is a company or person you believe will not send a virus-infected file knowingly If the e-mail message is not from a trusted source delete the message immediately Do not open or execute any of its attachments Many e-mail programs enable users to preview or look at the contents of a message before or without opening it Some viruses can infect a computer when a user previews an e-mail message Thus users should turn off message preview in their e-mail programs Some viruses are hidden in macros which are instructions saved in an application such as a word processing or spreadsheet program In applications that allow users to write macros set the macro security level to medium With a medium security level the application software
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