Just as humans are infected by ingested viral agents, so, too, are computers
vulnerable to suspect data entered into the CPU. Suspect data is referred to
as viruses. Left untreated, viruses seek and destroy data and may cause
eventual collapse of the infected computer system.
Viruses are data parasites written and released into programs with the
intention of creating mahem. These parasites seek data stored in hardware
and software (hosts) to infect or destroy. Some viruses infect every file,
others infect only applications software, data files, or operating system
software. Viruses duplicate and reproduce themselves into legitimate files
and may spread rapidly or sit in the system for months before attacking.
Viruses may activate when you initially start or boot up the computer or
immediately upon entering the system.
Copying or erasing infected floppy disks, downloading data from infected
computer bulletin boards, or accessing programs or networks via modems are
all ways of acquiring viruses.
Sudden and unexplained pictures or messages appearing on the monitor
screen or the disappearance of programs and data may indicate the presence
of viruses. Investigate any unusual behavior in computer performance. New
viruses appear regularly and may take any shape or form.
Antivirus programs are software programs designed to detect and eliminate
viruses. Some antivirus programs require activation each time you want the
program to seek and destroy viruses. Other antivirus programs, called
terminate-and-stay resident (TSR) programs, remain in ROM automatically
activating each time you boot up or insert disks into the computer. Installing
TSRs into the hard drive of the computer may interfere with software
programs already in memory. If this happens, removing the antivirus
program should return the software to normal.
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