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What is a computer worm?

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How to prevent a computer worm

A computer worm is a software program that is designed to copy itself from one computer to another, without human interaction. Unlike a computer virus, a worm can copy itself automatically.

Worms can replicate in great volume. For example, a worm can send out copies of itself to every contact in your e-mail address book, and then it can send itself to all of the contacts in their e-mail address books.

Some worms spread very quickly. They clog networks and can cause long waits for you (and everyone else) to view Web pages on the Internet.

You might have heard of specific computer worms, including the Sasser worm and the Blaster worm. The most recent worm is called the Conficker worm.

To help prevent infections by and to get rid of the Conficker worm and worms like it, visit the Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner or the Malicious Software Removal Tool. If you have automatic updating turned on, the Malicious Software Removal Tool runs on your computer every month.

For more basic information about computer worms, see How to prevent computer worms and How to remove computer worms.

For more advanced information, see Protect yourself from the Conficker computer worm.

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