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Computer viruses are software programs deliberately designed to interfere with computer operation. It can record, corrupt, delete data or spread themselves to other computers through the Internet. It can often slow computers down and cause other problems in the process.

Just as human viruses range in severity from the 24-hour flu to the Ebola virus, computer viruses range from the mildly annoying to the downright destructive. Viruses can come in new and different forms. The good news is that with a little prevention and knowledge, you are less likely to fall victim to viruses.

Note: No known viruses have the ability to damage computer hardware such as disk drives or monitors. Warnings about viruses that can cause physical harm are either hoaxes or misinformation.

Basic viruses typically require unwary computer users to inadvertently share or send them. Some viruses that are more sophisticated, such as worms, can replicate and send themselves automatically to other computers by controlling other software programs, such as an e-mail sharing application. Certain viruses, called Trojans (named after the fabled Trojan horse), can falsely appear as a beneficial program to coax users into downloading them. Some Trojans can even provide expected results while quietly damaging your system or other networked computers at the same time.

Although it's good to be aware of these different types of viruses and how they work, what is most important is that you keep your computer current with the latest updates. Just following a few basic rules when surfing the Internet, downloading files, and opening attachments. Once a virus is on your computer, regardless of type or method it used to get there is not as critical as to remove it.