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Cyber Safety Glossary

Viruses

Also Known As:
Malware, Worm, Trojan Horse.

Description:
Viruses are malicious programs or codes that are inserted into computer systems without the user's permission and operate without the user's knowledge. Viruses are executable files that, if opened, replicate themselves in host files and spread uncontrollably to other host files. Depending on their severity, viruses can extensively damage software on a computer or the computer itself.

How to Recognize This Threat:
Viruses are executable files. Any unsolicited correspondence from an unknown source is a potential carrier for a virus, and should be considered suspect. Any attachment (.doc, .xls, .ppt, .zip, .jpg, .gif, .txt, .tif, and .zip) is capable of hosting a virus executable file.

What Should I Do:
It is recommended for every computer user to have anti-virus software loaded on their computer. Furthermore, the anti-virus software should have the capability of being automatically updated, to ensure it protects against the latest virus programs. It should also automatically scan incoming and outgoing email. On a regular basis - at least weekly - the anti-virus software should automatically scan every file on the computer. Users should also have firewall protection. Never open an .exe file that arrives via email, even if it is from someone you know.