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The Danger of Contracting Computer Viruses

You don’t mail checks to pay your bills anymore; you pay them online. Instead of walking up and down in the mall to search for a gift, you simply Google something up and buy it from a website using your credit card. You get your bank and credit card statements delivered in PDF format to your email. You monitor your bank accounts through the Internet and you always try to do your transactions online, whenever you can.

The Online Life

You and other millions of people in the world prefer the convenience that online life brings, keeping valuable information in your personal computers and doing financial transactions over the Internet. There is nothing wrong with that but you need to be aware of the dangers of contracting computer viruses.

Concerns About Viruses

Many people see the concerns around the dangers of viruses as paranoia. Unfortunately, in this case it is good to be a little paranoid, since you use your computers to store personal and business information, to conduct bank transactions, to purchase products using your credit card number and to fill out forms with your Social Security Number, for example. You don’t want any random hacker to have access to this type of information. So, as you can see, it is best to prevent than cry over spilt milk.

Dangers of Viruses

But what are the dangers of computer viruses? How can you contract them? Most of the time, people contract viruses by opening email attachments, downloading files and programs from the Internet, opening suspicious greeting cards and screen savers, clicking in certain links and sometimes just by browsing through a bad website. That is why it is important to have an antivirus that offers wide protection against threats and that is constantly updated, either weekly or daily, depending on how much time your computer stays connected to the Internet. For “always on” connections, the best is to have the antivirus updated everyday.

There are three very common threats that people constantly face:

Computer viruses: Small bits of programs created to cause havoc in your computer and spread themselves over the Internet to other users. They are basically a code that attaches to other programs in your computer. They can destroy files and, in worst cases, even your operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux). Although most of the attacks are targeted at Microsoft users, there are some virus that can attack other systems as the OS X that Mac’s have and Linux.

Some viruses simply delete your files, but others can also prevent you from logging in to the Internet and can wipe out all the data you have stored when they attack your platform (your operating system). That is why you should always have a backup of your data; in a case like this, if you don’t have your information backed up somewhere else, all the data will be irredeemably lost.

Another easy way to get your computer infected with viruses is through the P2P (person to person) shareware, in which people share audio or video files over the Internet. Besides being illegal, it can also compromise your computer since you have no idea of the source of that file.

Worms: A type of program that self-replicates in order to fill up all the available space in the computer, creating problems for the operational system. Unlike the viruses, worms don’t get attached to programs nor attack files, being more harmful to networks and web servers. They are usually spread through email attachments.

Trojans: programs that pretend to be something else. You download it thinking it’s a good program and it turns out to be harmful to your computer. This type of program can give somebody unauthorized access to your computer and to your files; it can give the hacker the ability to watch your screen and control your computer.

There are other threats, but these three above are the most famous ones. It is easier to keep your computer safe if you have a good antivirus program and firewall protection and if you don’t use P2P shareware programs. Also use your common sense when receiving email attachments and don’t open or download everything that comes into your inbox.

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