Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Guide to Viruses and How to Prevent Them From Infecting Your Computer

A virus replicates itself and then sends itself through the Internet to other computers. The purpose is either to replicate, damage another computer or both. It doesn't need anyone to do anything to make it work; it is a self-contained and self driven program. That is why we should all find the best antivirus program we can to stay safe. A virus will normally get into your computer by being attached to a document or attachment that you download. It can do damage right away or sometimes it's timed to go off at a specific time or date.

A boot virus like disk killer or Michelangelo comes alive when the computer starts and this virus is very hard to get off your computer. Viruses that attach themselves to an install or executable file are called program viruses and they replicate themselves to all of the executable files on your computer, thus making them extremely hard to remove. Examples of these are the cascade and Sunday viruses.

Some viruses are called stealth viruses and they will change their file size to try to avoid being found by an antivirus program. Again, it all goes back to prevention and using the best antivirus software for your needs.

Documents from Microsoft office can be vulnerable to Micro Viruses. These viruses can infect all documents opened and it can be easily spread to other computers through sharing. Nuclear and DMV viruses are two examples of this kid of infection.

The newer viruses are getting much better at shutting down antivirus software. When it shuts down your antivirus it not only opens you up to other viruses, but it opens you up to malware and other such nasty worms. That is why it's imperative that we all have the best antivirus software possible installed on our computers and that it is always up to date.

Spyware is actually malware that has been designed to infect you through pages on the Internet. It can also come bundled in software that you might have installed on your computer. Spyware are not technically viruses but they, like viruses, have been the cause of many headaches and reformats over the years.

These can come from cookies, hijackers, adware, fake security software, key loggers and ransom-ware. Some new kinds of spyware are called root kits and they are virtually impossible to remove. Spyware is typically installed on a computer without the owner not even knowing about it. They are very hard to remove.

Ad-ware is software that is secretly installed on your computer. Its purpose is to produce pop-up ads and other forms of advertisements on your system. For every ad that you click on, you're giving the attacker money. This is why these types of programs are installed, to get clicks on a website. Hijackers, on the other hand, will actually take control of your web browser and take you to a web site that you didn't intend to visit. Again, the purpose of this is money. They take you to their site in the hopes that you will click on the links contained in it, they get paid for every click. They will also often change your homepage and change registry values. Other clues that you have been hijacked include browser plug-ins and add-ons that you didn't install.

What they call "rogue" or "fake" security software are programs that claim to be antivirus or antispyware software but in actuality, the program itself is the virus or spyware. It normally starts by a free online virus scan. Then it will give you a fake report telling you that you have tons of viruses on your computer and that the only way to get rid of them is to download the program. Once downloaded, it will give you more fake scan results and encourage you to give your credit card info to buy the full version of the product. This kind of virus will normally produce many pop-up warnings and error messages designed to scare people in to buying the full version.

These programs were made by smart people who know how to take advantage of an operating system as well as other security software like antivirus programs. The people who make these worms are from all over the world. They design and make these infections and then test them and modify them so they will infect as many people as possible and then they send them out to reproduce and spread and replicate on their own.

Many times these hackers will share information with each other about the weaknesses they have found in operating systems. Then they make malware to exploit that weakness and build a page that is infected with their creation and start advertising the page. Sometimes they will use a slight misspell of a popular web page and so if anyone hits the wrong key when typing in their favorite web page, they get this worm.

The companies that make our antivirus, anti-spyware software don't know about these threats until they happen and are reported to the company. They will get one of the worms and figure out how it works. At this point, they will create a fix for the problem and release it as an update. Once they update the definitions (which are the codes that tell the software what is good and what is bad) then you are protected from that malware in the future. Some companies update their definitions every day to try to stay ahead of the problems. Once the malware is out on the Internet the good software companies will then have the chance to figure out how it works and make the necessary adjustments for their software to combat the worm. However, this doesn't mean that you are protected 100% of the time, sometimes the updates are not enough for the good software to fully stop the malware. And many times the removal process for these worms is not fully figured out for weeks or months after the malware was launched.

What we have to understand is that no matter what kind of antivirus software we have installed on our computers, if we give permission for a program to install, the antivirus cannot stop it, all it can do is warn you. So we really need to be careful of what we install on our systems and we really need to have the best antivirus software we can get and keep it updated regularly to stay safe.

Here are some things you can do to stay safe and protect your self

• Stay educated on the latest methods used by these hackers. Most of these things can be stopped before they even start if you use common sense. If something seems wrong, it probably is and you should avoid it.

• Always have the best antivirus installed and up to date. You also need to keep windows updated.

• Always use a good firewall. Windows 7 has a firewall that works pretty well. But previous versions of windows firewall don't do enough. You can always find good free firewall programs online. But remember to only run one firewall and one antivirus.

• If you get a pop-up, don't click on it. Instead press the ctrl, alt and delete keys at the same time. Now click the programs tab and then select all Internet Explorer programs at once and select to end the task. Now you have just prevented a malware from infecting your computer.

• While browsing the Internet it is important to stay away from sites that regularly carry infections. These include pornographic sites, gambling sites, sites that show you how to be a hacker. Also if the domain or URL look strange or in any way unwelcoming, don't click on the site.

• Some will tell you to unplug your computer or to press the power button for 5 seconds if a pop up appears. This can do a lot of damage to an operating system and even to a hard drive so it is not recommended unless there is no other way to avoid it.

Alright, now that you are aware of what these viruses, malware and spyware actually are and what their purpose is, you need to know what to do if you still get infected.

Maybe you go to your favorite search engine to look up the symptoms that you are experiencing to find someplace to tell you how to get rid of this worm. If, for example, you get a pop up that tells you that it is a security alert, then go to your search engine and do a search for the exact words that it says. You don't need to pay for this information. There are sites out there like and that are great resources to get free advice and information.

There are a lot of people on these sites that have removed a lot of malware and they can help you.

If you find yourself about to download some software on the internet, always think about it first. Did you go looking for this software, or did you just kind of "accidentally" come across it? If your answer is the latter then avoid downloading it.

We must all be willing to really learn about these things so we can effectively combat them. If you don't want to put in the time to learn about it, then the alternative is to hire a professional who can do all the work for you. This can be expensive because you don't want to get the cheapest guy out there. But a reasonably priced tech should be fine.

Remember that even the best antivirus can't stop some of these programs, but you should use a good one and keep it updated. That also goes for anti-spyware software. Always think before you click and remember to check the URL's. If you do the few things recommended in this article you should have a much safer experience online.

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