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How viruses spread

How do viruses, worms and Trojan horses usually spread from PC to PC? How can I be assured that my PC doesn't contain any of them?

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These days, the most common way that viruses spread is via e-mail. They can be attachments that the virus itself sends out, or that the user innocently sends to other users.

Some viruses spread by using the open file shares on networks to seek out new hosts. And there are still some viruses around which infect a PC when it is booted up with a diskette in the drive.

The best way to be sure that your PC doesn't have any viruses is to start with a completely empty hard drive. Install the operating system from an original manufacturer's CD and then install up- to-date antivirus software as the first program, scanning all subsequent software installed. Once you've finished, keep the antivirus software up to date by downloading updates every day.

This was first published in August 2001

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