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A computer virus is a program. script. or macro designed to cause damage, steal personal information, modify data, send e-mail, display messages, or some combination of these actions.
When the virus is executed. it spreads by copying itself into or over data files, programs, or boot sector of a computer's hard drive. or potentially anything else writable. To help spread an infection the virus writers use detailed knowledge of security vulnerabilities. zero days. or social engineering to gain access to a host's computer.
You can protect your computer from viruses by installing an antivirus protection program. Once installed on a computer an antivirus monitors, detects, and cleans any computer viruses by looking for virus signatures .
What a virus does to a computer once it has infected the computer depends on the type of virus. Typically most computer viruses will delete data, overwrite information, display messages, and add itself to other files on the computer. Almost all computer viruses only damage the data contained on the computer and do not physically harm the computer or its hardware. More sophisticated viruses like Stuxnet can cause physical damage.
Below is a list of the different types of computer viruses.