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Computer Viruses and Other “Nasties”.

We are all aware of the threat of viruses to our computers, but what are the differences between the three main types which are generally described as, worms, Trojan horses and blended threats? Many people group them altogether under the title ‘computer viruses’ and it’s true they are all malicious programmes that can cause varying amounts of harm to your computer, but the truth is viruses, worms and Trojan horses are significantly different to each other. Understanding these differences can help you protect your computer against them.

Differentiating computer viruses

We’ll cut the “geek speak” to minimum and give you a brief explanation of how each of these threats works, starting with the “virus”. The computer virus attaches itself to a file or programme, invariably an executable file (.exe), which means that the virus can then exist on your computer until such time as you activate it (i.e. run the infected programme). Computer viruses can then spread to other computers when these infected files are shared or even through emails sent with viruses attached, but as with a human virus, the impact can be mild or severe (as regards the amount of damage it can cause to your files, programmes and even hardware) and therein lies the danger.

The Worm

Next up is the ‘worm’, quite similar to a virus but with added danger. No user action is needed for a worm to activate so it travels alone through your computer system. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay alone for long, as it then replicates. A single worm may make thousands of clones and perhaps even email your entire email address book. This is not great way to win a popularity contest with customers, friends and colleagues

Trojan Horse

Just like the story of the city of Troy and the wooden horse that wasn’t quite what it seemed, the modern day Trojan horse might appear at first sight to be a legitimate piece of software, even ironically, anti-virus software! Like a virus, they have to be activated, i.e. you have to open them otherwise they just lay dormant. As with viruses, the amount of havoc caused can vary greatly. Some are just plain annoying, changing your desktop icons whereas others can delete system files or documents or even create a ‘backdoor’ allowing access to your computer remotely and compromising personal and confidential information. Fortunately Trojans do not self replicate or infect other files.

Blended threats on the other hand, take aspects of worms, viruses, Trojan horses and mixes them up into one package. As a consequence, blended threats are a huge security risk, potentially one of the worst security risks since the very first computer viruses reared its ugly head in 1971.

Stay protected

So, if you want to protect your system against infection, there are a few things you must do. Keep your operating system up to date, install a top notch anti-virus software and update it regularly (as new threats appear on a daily basis), and of course, a firewall. To read more on anti-virus solutions, have a read here

Alternatively, just call Bean IT on 01827 68613 and we will help you protect your business!