What is a virus?Viruses are, by definition, small infections that replicate inside the cells of a living organism.Like their predecessors, a computer virus is a program which can replicate itself and then spread from one computer to another.Sometimes, malware, adware and spyware are called viruses, although they cannot replicate themselves. Instead, they can exploit the security of the computer as well as computers within their network.Some viruses can harm a computer’s data or performance, but many are harmless.
Why are virusescreated?We all dread the knowledge that our computer may be infected with a virus. But why would anyone go to the trouble and expense of creating one? There are many reasons why a computer virus may be created. Here are some of them…
1. To Control the computerThis enables the creator of the virus toattack web servers by having eachinfected computer sent information to theserver, thus overloading the system, andshutting down the server (which mayhost a rival website). It can also be usedto send spam to infected computers.
2. To generate moneyThe virus may pretend to offer freespyware or virus removal tools. Onceinstalled, they will “scan” your computerand find all sorts of viruses that they willremove, provided you pay for the fullversion of the application.
3. To steal your informationThey may actually be able to keeptrack of everything you type on thekeyboard, thus providing access toyour passwords, account numbersand personal information.
4. Just because they canYes, some people would stoop this lowto deliver a message, such as a viruswhich would cause your computer torestart with the message: “billy gateswhy do you make this possible? Stopmaking money and fix your software!”(actual virus!)
5. To shut down a computer or networkAlthough viruses that shut down acomputer are not as common as theyonce were, viruses to shut down anetwork are very common. Known as aDNS (denial of service), they will cause aexcess amount of activity on a network,shutting it down eventually.
Email and virusesOne of the most prevalent ways tospread a virus is by using Email.Although most of us use Email on adaily basis, many of us are naïve ofthe consequences of a “bad” Email.Let’s look at some of the ways thatviruses are spread by Email.
1. A Virus as an Email HoaxAlthough not the worse thing that canhappen, an email may contain falseinformation (a child needing an organtransplant or a virus warning). This willnot infect your computer, but can clog upthe email servers of the recipients,making it a waste of time, resources andenergy. To read more about emailhoaxes, see Hoax-Slayer.
2. In an Email attachmentThis is a clear reason why you don’t openattachments if you are not sure who sent them, or ifthey are authentic. These attachments can containviruses which run programs, or infect programs onyour computer (such as Word or Excel). The harmonly occurs if you open the attachment, so if you areunsure, delete the email. Caution: If your contactshave been affected by a virus, they may be sendingyou a rogue infection without you knowing. In thiscase, to be safe, save the attachment to your harddrive, and then scan it with your virus scanner.
3. In the body of the EmailIt is now possible to place a virus right into thee-mail. In this case, the virus will beautomatically triggered when you open theemail. This is done by embedding the messageinto the email. You will usually see a warningasking you to click if you want to see embeddedinformation. Only do this if you are certain ofthe source. Also, be wary of URLS (links to aweb page) which may actually link you to a sitewhere a virus will be downloaded. If you are notcertain of the sender, don’t open URLS in youremail.
Summary• Verify the source of any suspicious email before you open it• Do not blindly forward e-mail• Do not open attachments or links unless you are certain of the sender• Use caution when authorizing your computer to display content of trustworthy sources• Make sure that your email program does not automatically download and open attachments or display HTML content (embedded)
ResourcesClick on these links for more information• Top Ways People Get Infected by an Email Virus• Why do People Create Computer Viruses?• Top Ten Best Free Anti-Virus Programs• Top Five Current Email Scams You Should Know About
For more information: Contact me: email@example.com