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Antivirus Software

Computer Viruses

A computer virus is an unwanted software program that:

  • Gets loaded onto your PC
  • Replicates itself, meaning that it copies itself and distributes itself to other computers

A computer virus can get onto your PC in one of many ways. It can come from infected removable disks. It can come as attachments to e-mail messages, which is one of the most common ways. It can be down-loaded from web pages that your are surfing, also a very common way to get a computer virus. Computer viruses called worms can actually enter your computer over the network through known holes or flaws in operating systems. Trojans, another type of virus, are computer programs that get loaded onto your computer that leave the computer open to hijackers to install software and/or steal data. Trojans usually make their way onto a computer through un-patched security holes or flaws in the operating system or browsers.

Once on your computer, the impact from a computer virus can be relatively minimal to extremely destructive. A computer virus can:

  • Cause unwanted messages to appear on your computer
  • Cause your computer to slow down
  • Cause your computer to run erratically or crash
  • Steal or destroy data on your computer
  • Render your computer completely unusable

Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is software that you use to protect yourself from computer viruses. It can detect and remove known computer viruses. Antivirus software is available for most major operating systems including Windows (95/98/2000/XP), Macintosh, Linux and others. Products are even available for popular handheld devices including WindowsCE and Palm. To be truly effective, antivirus software must, at a minimum:

  • Be run on a regular basis, typically at least once a week
  • Provide real-time scanning capabilities so that it will detect viruses as they are trying to infect your computer
  • Provide an automatic update capability for virus definitions

Following are listings for free antivirus software, free antivirus scanners, free trials of antivirus software, and listings for charged-for antivirus products.

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