The world's worst viruses

Monday, 26 August 2002, 10:07 AM EST

Earthworms are a boon to the backyard gardener and healers still use leeches to thin a sick patient's blood, but no good has ever come from a computer worm or virus. Computer viruses have become increasingly dangerous and quick-spreading in the last couple of years, wildly proliferating through cyberspace and causing billions of dollars in damage.

Some of the distinctions between different types of malicious code are now blurred, but the classic computer virus is a piece of sneaky code that tells your PC to do something that you usually wouldn't want it to do. Without your knowledge, a virus could wipe out the programs and data on your hard drive or even let someone take over your machine remotely. A virus replicates by embedding itself into programs or system files.

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