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What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is basically a type of malicious software that can replicate itself by modifying other programs that are present in the same computer as the malware. Once it is able to do this, it inserts its own code and the replication succeeds. Computer viruses are not only a threat to user’s privacy, but they can actually be responsible for economic damage worth billions.

Just like a flu virus which cannot spread without a host cell, a computer virus cannot spread without attaching itself to a file or a document. It can spread in one or more computers which are part of the same network.

A virus alters the way a computer functions. At first, it attaches itself to a legitimate program that supports macros to execute its code and then it starts inflicting damage on the computer. The effects of a virus can be very unpredictable. It may harm the system’s software or completely corrupt or destroy the data stored in it. Considering how most of us have sensitive information like credit card details on our computers, this can be extremely dangerous.

What’s more, a virus may not necessarily start affecting the computer immediately after harbouring it. It may lie dormant for some time until its code is executed. So you actually have to run a program with the virus on your device for it to become functional. But as soon as you do that, it will start harming your system.

Some of the computer viruses that are present can have seriously damaging effects your computer. Malware has the ability to steal passwords from a device, destroy data stored on it, send spam to your email contacts, etc. Some of them are even designed for financial gains which are even more serious.

Viruses can enter our devices in many ways without us being even being aware of it. They come in the form of emails, downloads, social media content such as videos, pictures, audios and file attachments. If your computer is affected by a virus, it might be experiencing any of these problems:

  1. Frequent pop-up windows.
  2. Changes to your home page.
  3. Mass emails being sent from your email account.
  4. Frequent computer crashes.
  5. Unusually slow computer speed.
  6. Unknown programmes might start once you switch on your computer.
  7. Odd things such as password changes.

Therefore, one needs to very cautious about any file one is downloading. One should avoid visiting sites that appear to be suspicious or are not secure. Some of the common viruses are the Multipartite virus, Macro virus, Polymorphic virus, File infector virus, Resident virus, Direct Action virus, Browser Hijacker.

The best possible way to deal with a computer virus is by having an anti-virus software on your device already. There are plenty of options you can choose from and the popular ones include McAfee and Norton security. These keep your system safe and alert you in case you are about to download a file or program that has malware.

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