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If you are worried about traditional computer viruses, you should try to run a more secure operating system. You do not often hear about viruses on the UNIX operating systems because the security features keep viruses away from your hard disk and other files.
If an unsecured operating system is being used, the user should try buying virus protection software as a nice safeguard.
If you just avoid programs from unknown sources (like the Internet), and instead stick with commercial software purchased on CDs, you get rid of all of the risk from traditional computer viruses.
Do not ever double-click on an attachment that has an executable file that arrives as an e-mail attachment. Attachments that come in as Word files (.DOC), spreadsheets (.XLS), images (.GIF and .JPG), etc., are data files and
UPDATE: .docs, .gifs, and .jpgs can now contain Trojans and viruses.
A file with an extension like EXE, COM, or VBS is an executable, and an executable can do any sort of damage it wants. Once you run it, you have given it permission to do anything on your machine. Do not running executables that arrive via e-mail.