This is the first of a five-part series exploring computer virus, malware, spyware, computer worms and hacking. The series will offer 101 basics about these threats and the unavoidable realities of online computer life that can be avoided or lessened with a little of the most accurate and current information.

Computer Virus

These days in addition to all the scares about computer hacking, there’s lots of scare about everything that could go wrong on your desktop. For example, hacking is when a foreign entity operating from a hidden network breaks into your computer system retrieving valuable information. It’s kind of like someone breaking into your house and re-arranging the furniture.

And then there’s the threat of a virus, malware and other names for reckless harm that targets your computer. Understanding more about what Americans fear about their computers is key to understanding what we need to know about desktop viruses and other harm, how to be protected from it or how to stop it from ruining some of the most important data of our lives.

According to a study done by The Pew Research Center, 56%, more women than 54% of men are concerned about destructive computer viruses. Fear of a virus ranks as the fourth most identified fear of online life of both men and women. Child pornography, credit card theft and organized terrorism ranks as the top three in given order. How prevalent are viruses?

According to Statistic Brain as of 2012, 40% of all households have been affected by a computer virus.

What actually is a computer virus? A virus is “a program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another.” Also, a virus is a name for a category of Malware that represents an umbrella of computer threats. Also under this category is adware, spyware and the computer worm. Perhaps the most important thing to know about a virus is, whether it’s a major virus that crashes a government system or a less powerful virus that destroys company or personal data, it’s a virus and it costs time and money.

Maybe you remember the news in 2008 of the virus that struck the Pentagon, leading to “the creation of an entirely new military department, US Cyber Command.” And in 2009 there was the Conflicker Virus and 2009-10, the Stuxnet Virus, a virus “unique in that it targeted software that controls industrial systems.”

So where do you start with protecting your computer? Most of us start with protective software at the time we purchase our computer. But, this still doesn’t fully protect us from a virus. Ned Smith with Tech News says “the most common PC virus is a Trojan Downloader or Trojan Horse. This virus “is any program that pretends to be something other than what it really is—a downloader is a program that downloads another program.” There is expert help when you need it and there are lots of choices.

Yet, undoubtedly the company with clearest language about service, the most qualified team and the most reasonable cost is what most people are looking for when they are near frantic about a computer virus problem. A quick response to a problem on the home PC, office network of PCs or home office PC, can make an important difference. Mostly, it can save your computer.

Dan Steiner, owner of Online Virus, Inc, says “your computer is not simply a box that helps you to work, but it is also a machine that allows you to communicate with family and friends all across the world, as well as store your favorite memories, such as pictures, videos and more.” When there’s a problem he also says,”you need someone by your side that can fix it in no time at all.”