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|Viruses are generally small programs that get into the computer system and are activated in a variety of ways. Most viruses are transferred via e-mails. They are included as attachments which, when opened, infect the computer, generally without the knowledge of the user.
Trojan Horses integrate with the system and consist of small programs that allows someone else to access your computer when you connect to the Internet. Worms infiltrate the system and then send out e-mails, without user intervention or knowledge, to other computers with a virus attached which can then infect other computers in the same way. They send mails to people in your address book, and they may use the addresses to make it look as though the mail came from someone other than yourself.
Because viruses are normally spread through e-mail making it essential to have anti virus software installed. Our own e-mail server removes viruses from e-mails as they arrive but it is always best to run godd anti-virus software locally. An example of good, (free for personal use) e-mail and system anti virus software is AVG Free or the commercial versions, from standard antivirus to the full Internet Security package. The commercial version is more configurable and has a different, faster server for virus updates.
It is normal on Windows for the display of known file extensions to be turned off. This means that if an attachment called 'mypicture.jpg.exe' arrives it is displayed as 'mypicture.jpg'. This leads the user to think that it is an image file and is safe to be opened. To display the full file name in Windows - open Windows Explorer, select View in the menu, then Folder Options. Click the View tab and deselect the line 'Hide file extensions for known file types'. Click Apply and remove all windows.
Never open attachments that you are not expecting without checking them with anti virus software, even if they are from a known source - they may have already been infected.
The incidence of viruses being transmitted via e-mail has fallen recently due to the increased use of anti-virus software by end users and hosting companies.
Viruses can now also be picked up by visiting malicious sites so you may want to use a security package which protects against all forms of attack.