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Types of infections
Virus - A computer virus is a small program written to alter the way a computer operates, without the permission or knowledge of the user. Some viruses are programmed to damage the computer by damaging programs, deleting files, or reformatting the hard disk. Others are not designed to do any damage, but simply to replicate themselves and make their presence known by presenting text, video, and audio messages. Even these benign viruses can create problems for the computer user. They typically take up computer memory used by legitimate programs. As a result, they often cause erratic behavior and can result in system crashes. In addition, many viruses are bug-ridden, and these bugs may lead to system crashes and data loss. An excellent free anti-virus solution for home use can be downloaded from avast.com
Trojan - Trojan Horses are impostors--files that claim to be something desirable but, in fact, are malicious. A very important distinction between Trojan horse programs and true viruses is that they do not replicate themselves. Trojans contain malicious code that when triggered cause loss, or even theft, of data. For a Trojan horse to spread, you must, invite these programs onto your computers--for example, by opening an email attachment or downloading and running a file from the Internet. Trojan. Vundo is a Trojan. Most Internet Trojans can be avoided by using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.
Worm - Worms are programs that replicate themselves from system to system without the use of a host file. This is in contrast to viruses, which requires the spreading of an infected host file. Although worms generally exist inside of other files, often Word or Excel documents, there is a difference between how worms and viruses use the host file. Usually the worm will release a document that already has the "worm" macro inside the document. The entire document will travel from computer to computer, so the entire document should be considered the worm. W32.Mydoom.AX@mm is an example of a worm. Another preventative measure would be installing avast ! or Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee, or a similar product and update the definitions weekly (automatic).
Spyware & Adware - This is the newest and most misunderstood category of invaders. Thanks to the Internet, and Microsoft vulnerabilities, this is also the fastest growing and most prevalent threat. This group includes annoying pop-ups, tool-bars, and browser hijackers. It also includes really scary spyware items like key-loggers, dialers, and root-kits. These are the new and potentially devastating tools of the hacker that can destroy people and businesses financially and emotionally. There are quite a few tools to identify many of these threats, but no software can eliminate all of these threats. Tools like Ad-Aware, and other scanning software such as Spy-Bot Search & Destroy can reduce a majority of the junk, and identify most if the active infestations. Personal firewalls such as ZoneAlarm can be used to identify suspicious activity and prevent unauthorized use of your computer by covert software. Careful, however these personal firewalls can also cause a complete shutdown in communication, and if you "allow" everything, you have no security. [ All the software mentioned and linked to on this page can be downloaded for free by clicking on the links. If you have trouble with these links, please let us know - ]