Viruses and rootkits

Computer viruses are software programs deliberately designed to interfere with computer operation, record, corrupt or delete data, or spread themselves to other computers and throughout the Internet. Viruses often slow things down and cause other problems in the process.

Basic viruses typically require unwary computer users to inadvertently share or send them. Some viruses that are more sophisticated, such as worms, can replicate and send themselves automatically to other computers by controlling other software programs, such as an email sharing application. Certain viruses, called Trojans (named after the fabled Trojan horse) can falsely appear as a beneficial program to coax users into downloading them.

A rootkit is a stealth program installed on your computer that gives a hacker full control of your system and is not detected by anti-virus software.

Top five steps you can take to protect yourself

  1. Keep your computer current with a firewall.
  2. Ensure the latest updates and industry standard antivirus tools are loaded on your computer.
  3. Stay current about , and use safe when surfing the Internet, downloading files, and opening attachments.
  4. Back up your system regularly. No computer is invulnerable from viruses, so make sure your data is backed up frequently, so you don’t lose your files if a virus takes hold.
  5. Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and avoid opening an email attachment from someone you know, unless you know exactly what the attachment is. The sender may be unaware that it contains a virus. Before you open the attachment, scan it with antivirus software.


For more information on protecting yourself from and removing viruses, visit our full section on .


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