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your Microsoft Outlook contact lists, then to everyone in theirs, and so on (these
are called worms). Some will be programmed to create huge amounts of traffic
onto certain websites – such as a major corporate site, a major commerce site or a
major news outlet site – to cause the site to become unusually slow or to stop
working altogether.
Some viruses are supposed to be humorous. They may make little sheep dance
across your screen, or make your keyboard make belching sounds when you
type.
Some viruses, often called “worms” will actually make your system misbehave
in specific ways – such as redirecting your attempts to visit a certain site to
another site. One famous worm recently redirected Google searches in a scheme
that sent surfers to a German-based site that exactly replicated Google, except
served all ads from the people sponsoring the worm!
Some viruses are not funny at all, and can destroy data that cannot be recovered.
While spyware and other bad software will often need to be removed rather than
prevented, viruses should be prevented, and the good news is, that’s pretty easy
to do.
The most important, and luckily easiest, step any computer owner or
administrator can do is to install, enable, update and continually run a quality
security program that checks for viruses.
There are dozens of software brands out there but there are two that even now
are head and shoulders above the rest, Norton, and McAfee.
Best Antivirus Bets: Norton and McAfee
Norton is now owned by Symantec, a company that itself helped pioneer virus
and other computer security software.
Norton was a former competitor of Symantec’s. The Norton Antivirus, which is
typically offered in a major version revision each year – Antivirus 2003,
Antivirus 2004, Antivirus 2005 and so on – is one of the best investments you can
make for the health and safety of your PC. At around $35 per machine or less,
this program will scan your whole system, as well as all incoming items like
email, Internet file downloads, and removable disks, drives and CDs for viruses.
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