A virus is a program - a piece of executable code - that has the possibility of cloning itself. Computer viruses can spread fast and they are hard to eradicate. They can be attached to any type of file and they are spread as files are copied and sent from person to person. They can be contacted from an installed program or CD, they can be launched when opening a program or accessing a file, any file, or they can be brought from the internet by downloading a file or accessing a web page, and as attachments to emails.

Besides replication, some viruses have something else in common: their infecting routine. The behaviours of viruses vary from showing messages or images to destroying files, formatting the hard disk drive and causing other severe damage. If the virus does not inflict damage it can still cause problems by taking up space and memory, lowering the performance of the computer. If in doubt, call your computer man.

Nine rules for avoiding viruses would be

1. Use an antivirus program at all times.

2. Install and keep active a firewall.

3. Make sure your system is up-to-date with all the latest OS updates.

4. Keep your browser's security settings at maximum.

5. Never click 'yes' when the browser asks if you want to install or open some content coming from an organization you don't know or don't trust.

6. Install an anti-spyware program to increase protection.

7. Never install a browser help or search bar unless you are positive that it comes from a reliable source.

8. Use a different credit card for online shopping.

9. Don't click on an email attachment that are executable files even if they look as if sent from known persons.

Antivirus Protection

Antivirus programs have a big role to play in providing your computer's security and protecting it from viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other "invaders" that can attack a computer. The role of an antivirus program is to detect the presence of viruses in a computer, to disinfect the files or delete the ones that can't be disinfected and prevent the contamination of the computer.

Most of the companies that produce antivirus have online free tools for scanning computers for viruses. If you don't have an antivirus yet and can't decide which one to buy, you can enter their online sites and try the services for free, then decide which one suits you best. OR check in with your computer expert to get some advice and help with the download. Now that's playing it safe!