How to's - Anti-Virus

Why do you need antivirus software?

A computer virus is a program that is loads itself onto you computer without your knowledge. Computer viruses can replicate themselves and make your computer do things that you would not approve of. The problems that computer viruses cause can vary. Some will replicate themselves so many times that they use all available memory, thus bringing your computer to a halt. Others are able to invade your e-mail program and send themselves to everyone in your e-mail address directory. Antivirus software is important not only for the protection of your computer, but also the protection of the computers that you are linked to.

What can be done to avoid infection?

Most common viruses are spread by e-mail, sharing files over the Internet or by moving floppy disks from one computer to another. To detect, remove, and prevent the spread of computer viruses, you should have an antivirus program installed on you computer.

Can I still get a virus even though I have an antivirus program installed?

A common myth about virus protection is that once the program is installed that you will not be able to get a computer virus. This is not true. Even with antivirus software installed on your computer, you will still need to run virus updates to avoid getting a virus. Many antivirus programs can be set up so that they run these updates for you automatically (It is also possible to get a virus even with the latest updates. Unfortunately, there are situations that occur when the virus spreads faster than your computer will update the virus definitions. These situations are rare.). These updates are used to protect you computer from viruses that have been created or discovered since your software was made. Even brand new antivirus software will have to be updated right out of the box.

What kind of files can spread viruses?

Viruses have the potential to infect any type of executable code, not just the files that are commonly called 'program files'. For example, some viruses infect executable code in the boot sector of floppy disks or in system areas of hard drives. Another type of virus, known as a "macro" virus, can infect word processing and spreadsheet documents that use macros. And it's possible for HTML documents containing JavaScript or other types of executable code to spread viruses or other malicious code. Since virus code must be executed to have any effect, files that the computer treats as pure data are safe. This includes graphics and sound files such as .gif, .jpg, .mp3, .wav, etc., as well as plain text in .txt files. For example, just viewing picture files won't infect your computer with a virus. The virus code has to be in a form, such as an .exe program file or a Word .doc file that the computer will actually try to execute.

What is a Trojan horse program?

A type of program that is often confused with viruses is a 'Trojan horse'. This is not a virus, but simply a program (often harmful) that pretends to be something else.

For example, you might download what you think is a new game; but when you run it, it deletes files on your hard drive. Or the third time you start the game, the program E-mails your saved passwords to another person.

Note: simply downloading a file to your computer won't activate a virus or Trojan horse; you have to execute the code in the file to trigger it. This could mean running a program file, or opening a Word/Excel document in a program (such as Word or Excel) that can execute any macros in the document.


Viruses come in many different shapes and forms. Some are practically harmless, but most are malicious and dangerous to your data and secure information. Keeping you antivirus software up to date and being cautious of suspicious files or e-mails is the best way to protect yourself. You never have a 100% guarantee that your system won't be infected by a virus, but a guarantee that can be made is that if you do not have virus protection it is just a matter of time before you get one of the thousands of computer viruses.

For information about our Bullet- Proof protection plan or any other questions contact Elm City Computing now at 203 777 7763


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