Back in time, but just a bit, computer virus writers relied heavily on boot sector viruses and executable viruses to get their kicks. Viruses were much more likely to replicate themselves once they were loaded into memory which kept them running in the background as long as the computer was on. Another thing that made the computer virus writers proud was their ability to infect the boot sector on floppy discs and hard disks. The boot sector starts operating as soon as the computer is turned on or while it is booting up. By writing a malicious code and placing it on the boot sector, it was a guarantee that the virus would get executed as soon as the computer began to boot up.
With the advancement of today's technology neither of those viruses are much of a threat anymore. The reason being that floppy's are rarely used anymore in comparison to compact discs. Compact discs can not be modified which makes the threat of a virus on a CD impossible. Further, computer manufacturers have stepped up the security in the boot sector which makes boot viruses much less likely. Although there is still an extremely small possibility that one could arise but operating safety precautions and the increased use of CD's have lessened the threat.
It is more likely that a virus would infect your computer through your email, sent as an attachment. Even if it appears to come from someone that you know, it does not mean that they really sent it. The hard hit computer virus, Melissa, spread through Microsoft Words documents that were then sent out as emails. Melissa was created as a Word document and then uploaded to an internet newsgroup. Anyone who opened it would get the virus and so would the first fifty people in their address book. It disguised itself as a simple note from a friend so that people would not think twice about opening it and it just kept spreading and spreading. It was the fastest spreading virus to date. It even caused businesses to close until there was a fix for this particular virus.
Because many people are not computer savvy, many do not know that their Microsoft applications come with a built in Macro protector which default is set to enable which disables the auto execute feature. Therefore when a malicious code tries to enter a box usually pops up with a warning. It will likely mention micro or macro something or the other and since most people are not familiar with the term, they ignore the warning. Many get aggravated by the pop up boxes and disable them altogether, leaving their computer completely vulnerable.
For these reasons and many more it is extremely important not just for your safety but the safety of others as well to educate yourself on the terms and the basic protection offered by your computer manufacturer. Do not ignore any boxes that might happen to pop up because they are popping up for a reason and that reason is to protect you from the possibility of a future virus outbreak.
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