By SAUL ROSA
Recently, there has been a lot of alarm over computer viruses and the damage they can do. But what are viruses, and more importantly, how can you protect yourself from them?
The most recent virus, the Conficker Worm, has infected over three million machines running Microsoft Corp’s Operating System and an example of one of the three most common types of viruses: the T horse, the e-mail virus and the worm.
The trojan horse is the oldest of the three, originating to when entire operating systems could fit in floppy disks. trojan horse viruses are essentially programs that appear to be something else such as a word processor or game and when activated reveals its true nature.
Trojan horse viruses affect the fewest number of machines because the viruses are discovered quickly and cannot replicate automatically the infected programs is removed.
In the Internet era a new virus emerged, the e-mail virus. The virus spreads through e-mail and is contained in the e-mail’s attachment, so that when the attachment is opened the virus infects the machine and then sends new e-mails containing the virus.
A famous case of an e-mail virus was the Melissa Virus. David L. Smith was the creator of the virus and based it on the Microsoft Word macro. The virus was programmed to send the virus to the top 50 people in the infected computer’s address book. The increase in e-mail traffic was so severe that it caused some companies to halt their e-mail programs.
Knowing how these viruses work is essential to protecting against them however, the best protection lies in maintaining a healthy system, which includes a firewall, anti-virus software, and anti-spyware software. According to Microsoft.com “A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet.”
According to Microsoft.com, “Antivirus software is a computer program that detects, prevents, and takes action to disarm or remove malicious software programs, such as viruses and worms. You can help protect your computer against viruses by using antivirus software. Antispyware helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software.”
To get the most out of anti-spyware software, keep them updated regularly. “They offer the latest protection against malicious online activities,” Viruses are the flipside of technology and will continue to grow and evolve as long as technology continues. The best protection a computer owner can have is information.