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Computer Viruses an OverView

Computer security is a vitally important issue in today’s society, a lot of the most critical aspects of our lives require computers, and keeping those computers secure is critical. The popularity of the Internet and the amount of time we spend making use of it has made it very simple to spread computer viruses.

Computer viruses have become such a problem that they are now frequently mentioned in both the newspapers television news bulletins as well as in the online media. It is absolutely critical that you take steps to protect yourself against viruses, and you must be really vigilant if you spend a lot of time online.

Virus can be transmitted through e-mail, or a file you download even if you do not install it, but they can also be present in the files on a floppy disk especially if it is being passed from friend to friend. Lots of computers get infected every day, and if you do not take precautions yours may be next, you may lose all of your data on your machine. Once gone, it will be irretrievable unless of course you had the good sense to take a regular back up!

A computer virus is a small program that has the ability to duplicate itself, just like a real virus hence the name, also just like a biological virus it must have a host to exist. The virus payload, the end product of the computer virus, can be something harmless it can be as simple as displaying a message, or something very serious it could fully reformat your hard drive. Recent computer virus attacks have resulted in major disruption to both home computers and the networks of governments and multi national companies.

The advance of the Internet has been the most essential issue in the increase of computer viruses. Originally viruses were spread when people swapped disks with their friends, by its very nature this tended to restrict the spread of the computer virus but today most people do not tend to use external media like disks to store data in the same way, This has resulted, most viruses being spread via the use of e-mail and file sharing on the Internet. All that is required is for you to open an e-mail attachment or download a dangerous program and this can give your computer a virus. There are by now, about fifty thousand viruses in existence, but there are several hundred new threats produced each month.

There are a number of motives that encourage people to write computer viruses. The earliest virus programs were by and large written as pranks or experiments. However as some programmers began to learn their way about systems and the Internet, they wrote viruses just to see what they can do with them. For example, a programmer might write a computer virus code just to see how far it would spread. Unfortunately it did not stop there, other more malicious individuals, have far more hostile intentions and they took great delight writing computer viruses to harm websites or damage people’s computers.

An additional reason a computer virus gets produced is to blackmail large corporations with the threat of setting off a loss of data on their systems. There have been lots of viruses written for revenge. Employees who are about to lose their jobs can sometimes leave viruses behind on the company system to do damage to their former employer’s ability to do business.

Also lots of viruses are written for profit. The computer viruses may be used to send e-mail spam (so the original sender is disguised), causing your computer to serve as a host to illegal data, or engage in other illegal activities. Also, viruses can be used to spy on users, display pop-ups while the user is not on the internet, and acquire user data like bank accounts or credit card numbers.

Viruses tend to fall into two major types, Worms or Trojan horses, but just to complicate things Trojan horses, can be a type of worm.

A Computer Worm is a self replicating program, the first worm to gain wide attention was the Morris Worm this infected a large number of computers and earned its writer 400 hours of community service and over $10000 in fines!

Trojan horses as the name implies are hidden viruses. This helps the program to get installed in the first place. They then quietly run in the background, while disseminating its malicious code. This code can do any amount of things. It can begin right away or it may simply install a program that won’t start for sometime. Once it does start, it can delete all of the files on the computer or it can infect the computer and try to infect other computers on the network.

There are a number of ways viruses are delivered, and as a Trojan horse is the most common. It generally comes with other pieces of software that a user might find interesting. This software is usually shared through a file-sharing network or downloadable off of the Internet. Once the user installs the software, the virus also gets installed.

It is vital that you cover yourself against viruses, this can done very simply by installing a good anti-virus program and keeping it up to date. There are both free and expensive software applications around that can be set to self-update to protect from viruses.

You can also help defend yourself by being cautious where you download files from; only use a reputable well-known source. You should also not to open any e-mail attachments unless you know the sender. Making these safety precautions will help to protect you from computer.

Roger Overanout


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