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The answers: False, False, True, True, and False. (A Mail Bomb is not a virus. You cannot, repeat this with me now, CANNOT get a virus by simply reading a piece of e-mail. You CAN get a virus by installing or executing a virus program attached to a piece of e-mail. Thus the answer to question number two is False, with the proviso above).

Anyone with a computer these days has heard of computer viruses; "Michelangelo," "Stoned," and the infamous faux virus "Good Times" have been much publicized. So you know they are out there, but what are you doing to protect your computer and your valuable genealogy data?

What is a Computer Virus?

The widely accepted definition says it is an executable program that replicates itself, and attaches itself to other executable programs in an unsolicited manner. The Virus author's goal is to infect as many machines as possible, and to that end the virus program tends to work slowly, so nothing will alert you to its presence until it has replicated itself. Just like the biological viruses we can catch, the computer virus can't spread if it "kills" the host.

  • A Trojan Horse is a program that cannot spread like a virus or worm, but can destroy the computer it is on. Trojan Horses move fast, destroying it's host before the user notices it.
  • A Computer Worm is a program that is able to replicate itself, usually over networks.

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