Computer Viruses

A Computer virus is a type of malware that copies itself to your computer.

Viruses often cause harmful or annoying effects, such as logging keystrokes and corrupting data.
Over 99% of computer viruses target PCs using Microsoft Windows. In response to this, many kinds of antivirus software are available to monitor your computer, and take action if a virus is detected. Information on antivirus software is available here.
In order to infect a PC, viruses exploit a flaw in the PC's security system or software. They do this in a number of ways, which can be read about here.

Virus engineers create viruses for a number of reasons including for profit, their own amusement, or to outline a flaw in a piece of software. The first computer virus. nicknamed "Creeper" was created by Bob Tomas, a software engineer working at BBN Technology in 1971. More information about the first viruses can be found here.

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Avoiding Malware/Viruses

While it is important to have good antivirus software, it is always good to try and avoid viruses in the first place. There are some viruses that are unavoidable, though here are a few tricks to avoid these nasty bits of software.

1. If you receive a clickable link in an email, type it in or try to copy and paste it into the searchbar, clickable links in emails may hold a virus along with the web address. For internet banking especially never click on links in emails to get to the bank login page.

2. Look at the web address for anything wrong. For example… www.westtbank.com … Notice the double t. Some hackers simply make a bank page that looks exactly like the authentic page, if you enter your details in, chances are the hackers will have your bank details.

3. Use a firewall. Firewalls can be part of the hardware specifically in the router, or software that works with the internet browser. Having a firewall is like locking the front door while away from home. The firewalls job is to look at the data the computer receives, and screen it for safe data or malicious software or hackers.

4. Download things from sites that you trust. If you are not sure, you can type the website into a searchbar to see if there have been previous reports on the website containing bad data.

5. Know that some licence agreements for applications or data will have a small print saying the package may cause unwanted effects.

6. Dont click accept or ok to close a window, use the red x in the corner of the window to close programs.

7. Be wary or free music or movie sharing sites and understand all the software packaged with it.

8. Use a standard account instead of an administrator account. standard accounts require an administrator password to change or delete important computer files.

9. Dont always trust links friends send on social media sites. Hackers could have hold of the account. Check with the friend another way or look out for anything out of the ordinary.

For more information on computer viruses and avoiding them visit…
http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/malware-protect.aspx


Anti-Virus and Malware Protection Software

There are many programs designed to protect your computer from Viruses and Malware. Many of these programs cost, but there are also free versions of most software. Avast, Panda, Zone Alarm, Avira, BitDefender and AVG, to name a few, all provide free software. Along with these which can be installed many computers come with a pre-installed aniti virus, such as Windows Security Essentials. It is recomended that you have an active anti-virus program.

Antivirus programs protect you by scanning files you download, and EXE files you open. While scanning they look for similarities in the file to that of known viruses, and monitor for behaivours of possible new viruses. This is called Real Time Protection. But for these to work, anti-virus programs rely on Virus Definitions. These Definitions are constantly upadated when new viruses are discovered to allow your anti-virus software to detect new threats.

Anti-viris software also has Heuristics. Heuristics allows your software to identify altinated strands of a virus or new viruses. They detect strange behaivours, such as a program rewriting itself into another program and treats it as a virus. But their are also possible downside to this feature. Sometimes harmless software is detected and treated as a virus. In extreme cases this has resulted in major system failures.

For a more detailed explanation read here.


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