Viruses, Spyware and Malware â€“ The Threat and How to Protect Yourself
Malicious software such as computer viruses, spyware and Malware have become an extremely serious threat to businesses and individuals and the threat is growing exponentially. There are even laws to help stop distributors of this malevolent software, yet the threat and circulation of intrusive and destructive software continues to grow. Many companies and malicious programmers continue to create intrusive and destructive software and distribute it to the masses in spite of consequences for doing so. Take a moment and learn how to determine if your computer or network is infected with Spyware and how to remove it.
A computer Virus is a program that creates copies of itself and distributes itself without the knowledge or permission of the computer user. Computer viruses often simply called virus are usually hidden in other computer programs. A virus reproduces by making copies of itself in the computerâ€™s storage, memory or network. Currently, there are thousands of computer viruses circulating on the Internet and new viruses are discovered everyday.
Types of Viruses
There are several types of viruses that are circulating on the Internet today and they all have been designed for a particular purpose.
Boot Sector Viruses â€“ these viruses infect the boot sector of a hard drive. Once the hard drive is booted up, boot sector viruses load themselves into the computerâ€™s memory. Many boot sector viruses, once executed, prevent the operating system from booting.
File Viruses â€“ also known as executable or parasitic viruses. File viruses attach themselves to executable files, drivers and other files in your computer. Once the virus is activated via the host program, the virus normally replicates itself and depending on how the virus was constructed, it can create widespread destruction in the host computer and any other connected computers. Many file viruses can be activated via a specific date, when a particular program is started or anything equally trivial.
Macro Viruses â€“ Macro viruses can pose a major threat. These viruses are written in the language of application programs such as: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and other programs that use macros. What makes macros viruses so dangerous is that because they are written in the code of application software, they are platform independent. Macro viruses can spread between Mac, Windows, Linux and any other system, so long as they are running the required application.
Network Viruses â€“ These viruses spread throughout Local Area Networks (LAN) and via the Internet. Once the virus finds and infects a computer, it then begins to search for another vulnerable computer to infect and continue its vicious cycle.
E-mail Viruses â€“ This type of computer virus spreads itself through the use of your computerâ€™s e-mail address book. It copies itself and e-mails itself to everyone in your address book, usually as an attachment and once the recipient opens the attachment, the virus repeats the process.
How Much Does it Cost to Counter Viruses?
It is not exactly known how many dollars of destruction computer viruses have caused this past year. And many antivirus companies are not in the business of assessing the worldwide economic impact of larger computer virus outbreaks.
“The numbers certainly differ across the various organizations evaluating them,” Steven Trilling, director of research for Symantec said. “Clearly there is some cost, and it’s significant. Whether it was US$10 billion or $100 billion last year, it’s hard to say.”
How to Protect Your Computer From Viruses?
There are two ways to protect your computer from viruses: either never communicate with anyone again via computer or use an anti-virus program. Although anti-virus programs are not full proof, they do provide a substantial level of security when used properly.
The key to using an antivirus program correctly is to update its virus definitions database frequently and to scan your computer regularly. You should also activate real-time monitoring so that your computer can scan incoming and outgoing data, including all e-mail and attachments.
Spyware & Malware
Spyware & Malware are a problem that is costing individuals and businesses billions of dollars per year in lost time and revenue to detect and remove it. IDC, a top research and advisory company for IT and telecommunications industries recently surveyed over 600 organizations to determine what companies perceived to be their greatest security threat. The survey results showed that Spyware was listed fourth out of top security threats. This may not sound extremely important, but according to estimates, over half of consumer computers are infected with some sort of Spyware or adware. There are hundreds of anti-spyware programs on the market today, however the anti-spyware program is only as good as its database.
What is Spyware & Malware?
Spyware and Malware are software that is installed along with a program that is knowingly installed on your computer. Spyware collects information about your computer, data on your computer and information about you and it secretly sends to another computer or person via the Internet. Malware infects your computer and is designed to vandalize or cause data loss to your computer.
Spyware & Malware are a growing problem to businesses and individuals worldwide. According to statistics published by Earthlink in 2004, computers they scanned averaged 26 instances of Spyware per computer. As you can see, Spyware is a growing epidemic and every precaution must be taken to circumvent this problem. And Malware has been just as destructive, with 2005 figures of financial impact of and estimated $14.2 Billion.
What is the Problem with Spyware & Malware?
Businesses an individuals store all types of information on their computers. Information such as sensitive business information, company financial data, account numbers, credit card numbers, personnel information and other sensitive and private information.
When the Spyware or Malware program activates on your computer, it can collect this sensitive and private information and forward it to another person or computer or corrupt and destroy the data on the computer hard drive and then move throughout your network. When this happens, you will usually have little or no knowledge of this action.
What Types of Spyware and Malware Are There?
Spyware can be categorized by the level of intrusiveness and/or the use of information collected. Low-level spyware includes cookies and most adware. Medium to high level Spyware includes â€œmonitoringâ€ or â€œsurveillanceâ€ Spyware designed to collect information for criminal purposes.
Malware can be categorized by the manner in which they spread. They can either be considered a virus or worm. Malware can either infect computers by triggering when executable software actives or transmit itself over a network as a worm to infect other computers.
How Much Does it Cost to Counter Spyware & Malware?
Consumers and businesses are expected to spend approximately $305 million on efforts to detect and eliminate Spyware, according to a recent report from IDC. This amount does not include the loss of time and productivity. When Spyware affects a companies network, it can slow down the productivity of employees and require the companies IT staff to track down and eliminate the Spyware. If Spyware affects your computer at home, it can slow your productivity, forward personal information and in some cases you may need to format your hard drive to eliminate the Spyware. Thus loosing all of the data not backed up.
According to research, the most cost-intensive category for Malware was â€œlabor.â€ The loss of revenue was ranked second in 2005 approximately $14.2 Billion.
How to Protect Your Computer From Spyware & Malware?
There are two basic elements to any Spyware & Malware software. The elements are ability to detect Spyware & Malware and the ability to remove the detected malicious programs. To give your computer the most protection possible, itâ€™s best to purchase an anti-spyware/anti- Malware program.
There are free anti-spyware & anti-Malware programs available on the Internet but we strongly advise you not to use them. Some programs are poorly written or have not been tested thoroughly and can create conflicts with software on your computer or cause damage. Some programmers also create anti-spyware programs only to remove other spyware and install their spyware or Malware.
Itâ€™s best to purchase an anti-spyware / anti-Malware program from a reputable manufacture and retailer. The key to protecting your computer from this destructive software is frequently updating your softwareâ€™s database and running complete scans of your hard drive and any other storage media.
In conclusion, viruses, spyware and Malware are a billion dollar business and malicious programmers and companies are looking to cash in on you. Protect yourself with a quality security program and continuously update the software to give your computer the best protection possible when scanning your hard drive.