Q: What’s the difference between
a Virus and a Worm and how can I keep my computer safe from them?
“Virus” has become a generic term that includes all the malicious
ways your computer can be attacked. Viruses
are distributed by making copies of themselves or replication.
Sometimes the replication itself causes damage to your hard disk.
Sometimes the accumulative effect of replicating again and again
disables the computer. Sometimes
the energy used by replication takes over the system and there’s no computer
energy left. Here’s a short
list of different kinds of computer diseases:
Virus is a program that piggy-backs on other programs. It can be attached to a
Word or Excel file. Each time the
file is run, the virus runs too. It
attaches itself to other programs and continues to reproduce.
Email virus is a special type of virus sent as an attachment to an email
message. It replicates by
automatically mailing itself to everyone in the recipients email address book.
Worm uses computer networks to replicate itself.
It searches for servers with security holes and copies itself there.
It then begins the search and replication process again.
Trojan Horse is a computer program masquerading as a game or a “cute”
program. However, when it runs it
does something else - like erasing your hard drive or blocking your screen
with a graphic will not go away.
Some viruses use several of these in combination to replicate
themselves. It is disturbing that
people actually spend large amounts of time and creative energy putting these
devious things together. But they
do and will continue to do so. The
best protection is to get an anti-virus program and install it BEFORE you have
any virus problems. Too many
people find out they have a virus only after sending it off to all their
friends and business associates. It’s
simply not worth the risk. Norton
and McAfee are the most common anti-virus programs for home and small business
use. Be sure to install the
updates regularly. If you have an
old version, get updated. New
viruses are being created every day, it is important to keep your anti-virus
software up to date. When your
anti-virus program pops up and tells you it has detected a virus, always
choose the option to fix it.
are some tips on recognizing viruses in email attachments:
Once you were safe from viruses if email attachments were not opened, however,
this is no longer true. Make sure you have the most current updates from
Microsoft for your operating system. These are patches for holes
that virus creators exploit in the Windows operating system. Select
"Windows Update" from your menu system and follow the directions.
If you have a dial up connection, this can be very tedious, but it's worth the
Most viruses come
from opening an attachment that comes with an email. Basically, don’t open an
attachment that comes from someone you don’t know.
If it’s from someone you know, stop and think.
Does it have a reasonable introduction in the email?
If the email contains nothing but the attachment or only has a brief
note like “I’d like your advice on this” or “Here’s something
cool” it is suspect. If the
attachment is an executable file (ends in .exe or .com), it is also suspect.
Don’t open suspect attachments.
This article is translated to
Serbo-Croatian language by
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in "Verve" November 2001. Copyright Tonna Kutner