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How Do Computer Viruses Affect Us in Everyday Life?

by Kevin Lee
Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Because someone put poison in Tylenol bottles in the 1980s, consumers must now spend extra time opening tamper-proof packaging. In a similar way, computer viruses have changed the way people work and communicate in the 21st century. Like a human virus, a computer virus can spread rapidly to new hosts, causing devastation where it goes. No one can stop programmers from creating viruses, but there are ways to minimize their destructive powers.

New Forms of Software

Consumers must now pay more money to purchase new types of security that protects them from computer viruses. Although some anti-virus programs are free, you may prefer uses paid versions that have advanced features. Because someone must create anti-virus programs, a whole new category of jobs now exist where people make livings by creating anti-virus software. Companies such as Symantec and AVG devote their resources to creating programs that protect people from malware. Consumers must also learn to install and use their anti-virus programs effectively if they want to obtain maximum protection. As people create new viruses, Microsoft and other software developers update their applications to address those newer threats.

Web Surfing

Browsers are now more complex and require additional features to protect surfers as they navigate treacherous websites. Glance at your Internet Options in Internet Explorer, for example, and you will see an entire section devoted to adjusting your browser's security. Cyber criminals often create malicious websites that attempt to infect your computer when you visit the site, so Internet users must learn to avoid potentially dangerous sites that may contain viruses. Parents concerned about a child's safety may also adjust their browser settings to prevent him from visiting sites that are inappropriate or that may contain viruses.

Training

If you work in a business, you may have had to take security training or learn about company security policies. Since cyber criminals also target business computers and networks, it is important for companies to educate their employees. Even if parents add parental controls to browsers, they should also teach children how to surf safely and avoid installing potentially dangerous software. Schools also feel the financial effects of viruses. Not only must they install anti-virus programs, but also they have to train the people who install and administer those applications.

Email

Because viruses and other forms of malware exist, it takes a little longer for people to read their email attachments. All major email services now scan attachments for viruses. Scanning is fast, but if you have many attachments, you have to wait until your email service's scanner completes its job. Security experts also warn people not to open attachments from sources they do not know. Because of the existence of viruses, you must be on the alert when browsing your inbox and deciding which attachments to open.

Financial Losses

People living in the digital age experience financial and personal losses because of viruses. If your computer gets a virus or malware infection that wipes out your hard drive, you may lose valuable records and important historical information. This can be devastating if you run a business and a virus destroys your database files. Catastrophic viruses can cause loss in productivity by disabling computers and preventing people from working. The infamous "I Love You" virus of 2000 infected 50 million computers and caused organizations such as the CIA and Pentagon to shut down their email systems.

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