Computer viruses have been around almost as long as computers. Computer viruses numbered in the one hundreds in the early 1990’s are now numbering over one million. So the question is, are you susceptible to a computer virus? Is your tablet susceptible? Is your smart-phone susceptible? The answer to all these questions is yes. The only difference is the degree of susceptibility. And that degree is a moving target. Today you you are relatively safe using your IPAD or IPHONE. However, as the popularity of the device continues to grow, the hacks may suddenly become interested in attacking the various IOS devices such as IPAD and IPHONE. At present, the most lucrative target is Window’s based devices. This is because Windows is, and has been since the beginning of the digital age, been distributed amongst the largest user base. In simple terms, as a virus writer, you will get more bang for your buck attacking windows based systems. At least for now.
What exactly is a computer virus and what are the types of virus that I need to worry about? A computer virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data. Computer viruses come in various shapes and sizes. The most common forms of computer viruses are:
- Trojan Horse – is a program in which malicious or harmful code is contained inside apparently harmless programming or data in such a way that it can get control and do its chosen form of damage, such as ruining the file allocation table on your hard disk.
- Worm – A computer worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. Often, it uses a computer network to spread itself, relying on security failures on the target computer to access it. Unlike a most computer virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program.
- Malware – software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. The term is short for malicious software.
- Spyware – software that enables a user to obtain covert information about another’s computer activities by transmitting data covertly from their hard drive.
- Ransomware – a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.
- Adware – a software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material (often unwanted) when a user is online. This is considered a type of virus because it can install to your device without your permission, is difficult to remove, and can have a detrimental effect on the performance of the infected device.
- Rootkit – a set of software tools that enable an unauthorized user to gain control of a computer system without being detected.
Computer virus are spread when the virus copies itself from one location or computer to another. The most common forms today are through email attachments, infected or malicious websites, within an application, such as a browser add-on, and media devices such as portable hard drives, USB sticks, etc.
So, are you using protection against computer virus? Are you sure? Often an individual will purchase a new computer and it will come with a trial subscription to one of the popular anti-virus PROGRAMS, such as McAfee’s or Symantec. These programs are subscription based. This means that the software will continue to reside on your computer, but unless you pay for a subscription, the software will not be updated with current virus definition files. Since new viruses are being written all the time, it is important that your anti-virus software be kept up to date. The “big boys” in the game, such as McAfee, Symantec, and Trend-Micro require a paid for subscriptions but thee are a number of free anti-virus software as well. Microsoft has a free anti-virus software called Microsoft Security Essentials. Windows 7 users can download and install it for free. Windows 8 includes it as part of the operating system. It never hurts to supplement your anti-virus program with a target specific software such as MalWareBytes or Adaware.
No matter what you decide, decide to do something. Running your computer with outdated virus definitions is the same as having no protection at all. Additionally, if you are still using an outdated operating system, such as Windows XP or earlier, you are a disaster waiting to happen. If you have been doing any of the above, then you are probably already infected. Sometimes obtaining current anti-virus software and scanning is all you need to do. Other times, it may prove simpler to reinstall Windows and start from scratch. But when you start from scratch, install anti-virus and keep it up to date. One other warning, do not trust any website that offers to scan your computer for free. If you think about it, the only way a website can truly scan your computer for a virus is if that website has full access to your system, something you do not want to happen.
I have seen some programs whereby it is recommended that you turnoff your anti-virus software when installing. It doesn’t say much for the software writers if this is a requirement. However, if you feel you must, then I recommend you only do this with software that is installed locally, and not installed over the web. While installing, and while your computer is unprotected, you should unplug your computer’s network cable or disconnect from the Wi-Fi network. Keep it unplugged until the software is completely installed and your anti-virus software is functional again. But before you do that, think how badly you need any software that the anti-virus software tags as a virus during install.
I hope you have found this information useful. If you have any questions or seek additional clarity on this topic, feel free to use the comment form below or send a private comment via the feedback form. Thanks for reading Townehouse Technologies and please consider liking, sharing, and subscribing.