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What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is usually a small software program that spreads from one computer to another and interferes with a computers' normal operations. A computer virus may corrupt or delete data on a computer, use an e-mail program to spread the virus to other computers, or even delete everything on the hard disk.

Computer viruses are most easily spread by attachments in e-mail messages or by instant messaging messages. Therefore, you must never open an e-mail attachment unless you know who sent the message or unless you are expecting the e-mail attachment. Computer viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files. Computer viruses also spread by using downloads on the Internet. Computer viruses can also be hidden in pirated software or in other files or programs that you may download.