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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Data Loss and Virus Prevention ]

Virus Detection and Protection

There was a time when you only had to worry about you (and your family) screwing up your own PC. Now you have to worry about complete strangers doing it for you. :^) Due to the nature of how software works, it is possible to write programs that can modify or create other programs--a compiler is one example. It is also easy to duplicate a piece of code and write it to various locations on a hard disk. It didn't take very long for some ingenious--but perhaps diabolical--hackers to figure out that they could write pieces of software that would do these things and more, without the user's knowledge or consent, and the virus "industry" was born.

While viruses have been around almost as long as the PC, they have only recently, within the last few years, changed from minor inconvenience to serious menace. There are several reasons why they are now much more of a problem: many more computers are in use, and there are many more ways of sharing information between them. Advances such as the Internet have made it possible for computer viruses to spread much more quickly than ever before, and more computer users in general--especially those that don't understand what viruses are--have given virus writers a much richer set of targets.

Viruses are a fascinating and involved topic, and one that is basically an entire subject unto itself. In this section I take a basic look at viruses, what they are, where they come from, how they spread and how to protect yourself from them. For much more information I would suggest that you consult this comp.virus FAQ page, which covers the subject in much more detail.

Next: Background on Viruses


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