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"Computer virus" Definition:
A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. The term "virus" is also commonly used, albeit erroneously, to refer to many different types of malware and adware programs. The original virus may modify the copies, or the copies may modify themselves, as occurs in a metamorphic virus. A virus can only spread from one computer to another when its host is taken to the uninfected computer, for instance by a user sending it over a network or the Internet, or by carrying it on a removable medium such as a floppy disk, CD, or USB drive. Meanwhile viruses can spread to other computers by infecting files on a network file system or a file system that is accessed by another computer. Viruses are sometimes confused with computer worms and Trojan horses. A worm can spread itself to other computers without needing to be transferred as part of a host, and a Trojan horse is a file that appears harmless. Worms and Trojans may cause harm to either a computer system's hosted data, functional performance, or networking throughput, when executed. In general, a worm does not actually harm either the system's hardware or software, while at least in theory, a Trojan's payload may be capable of almost any type of harm if executed. Some can't be seen when the program is not running, but as soon as the infected code is run, the Trojan horse kicks in. That is why it is so hard for people to find viruses and other malware themselves and why they have to use spyware programs and registry processors.
(This definition is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Computer virus".)
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