You’ve heard the term “computer virus” before, but what you might not know is that a virus is only one type of infectious file, which is part of a bigger group of bad things called “malware.” It is useful to know the different types of malware that are out there, how they work, and — most importantly — how to keep them away from your computer.
Here are the three main types of malware you should know about: Viruses, Worms, and Trojan Horses.
Put simply, a virus is a piece of code that attaches itself to another file. It cannot propagate by itself, and it relies on a user to actually open the infected file in order for the virus to spread. You see these a lot with picture files or text documents that have been emailed, which is why you always hear, “Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know!”
Unlike viruses, worms can spread themselves automatically, and often do so without the user’s knowledge. What makes these programs particularly nasty is that they often spread over a network in order to compromise the network’s security. At best, their mere presence can hog resources and slow your computer down to a crawl. At worst, worms can steal your sensitive information and/or destroy your whole network.
Remember the story about the Trojan War from Greek mythology? Trojan Horse programs (sometimes simply called “trojans“), resemble that type of dirty trick. Trojans don’t usually spread themselves automatically, but instead often disguise themselves as something useful, like a cool web app or a toolbar. However, once installed, trojans secretly break holes in your computer’s security in order for hackers to get in easier. Trojans are thought to comprise over 80% of the malware infections out there!
These malware programs are a real headache for users and administrators alike. Here are a few tips to help protect your computer from malware:
Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know or click suspicious links. I know, everyone has heard this one a million times, but just don’t, okay?
Keep your anti-virus/anti-malware software up-to-date. Set your anti-virus software to automatically update. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.
Have a back-up plan. Literally, by making regular backups of your files, and figuratively, by knowing who to call in advance if something happens. You can’t look up a repair person’s phone number online if your computer is locked up!
Trish Glees is president of T.G. Consultants. She has been in the IT field for 20 years and is an extremely knowledgeable and experienced IT professional. The companyâ€™s project management experiences ranges from small to multi-million dollar information technology projects, for both commercial and residential clients. Whether you are running a business or just want to spend more time with your family, our solutions allow you to focus on what is most important to you, because we take care of all your computer issues. We are a 100% woman owned company. Contact Trish at email@example.com.