Thursday, 29 March 2012

Computer Viruses and Spyware


Types of Computer Viruses
There are many different types of computer viruses and understanding the differences is the first step in protecting your computer. Among the worst viruses are the kind that will corrupt the data on your hard disk which can render your computer useless and require a technician to re-install the operating system. Other viruses can run special routines that try and overhead your chipset and actually create permanent damage to your hardware. Most anti-virus programs are designed well enough to catch and eliminate the most malicious viruses and thus the viruses you see sneak by will be more subtle. One of the more recent and clever viruses falls under the category of what is called a "rouge anti-virus program" which essentially pretends to be a legitimate anti-virus program, informs you of a virus on your computer, and then asks you to "upgrade" your software for a fee to eliminate the virus. Often times these programs will try and collect your credit card number, and upon receiving it will disappear leaving the user thinking they have purchased something legitimate. The rogue anti-virus programs are often designed to look and feel just like real anti-virus programs and is thus deceiving to the computer user. The program will typically prevent you from running any programs or accessing files until you "purchase" the software from them by giving them your credit card number. As should be readily apparent now, one should never give out their credit card number to a program that blocks you from using the computer.
A very common feature of viruses is to capture your email password and then send a copy of itself to your contacts. Since your email contacts know you, they are likely to open the email and click on the attachment which will then infect their system. If you believe that emails are going out of your account and you aren't the one sending them, immediately change your password.
Types of Spyware
Spyware is typically less harmful and malicious than a typical computer virus, but it can still affect your computer's performance and expose your personal information to unauthorized third parties. Spyware is typically lumped in with what is called "adware" which are annoying computer programs that display advertisements on your screen. The two often work together whereby the spying program collects information about what websites you visit, the articles you read, the things you purchase, etc and the advertisement program shows you related ads. Legitimate companies will sometimes purchase advertising packages from adware companies to get their product to pop up on your screen. Sometimes this type of advertising software is installed on your computer when you download free programs, and the idea is that you will see advertisements in exchange for using the free software. It may sound strange at first, but this is the same model that television stations have been using for decades.
Motivations Behind Computer Viruses
A lot of people ask why computer viruses are created in the first place. The most obvious reasons would include stealing money through credit card number, identity theft, or any other way a person could profit from it. People also create viruses out of sheer vanity, or in other words to just prove it can be done and see the impact you can have on larger organizations for a short time. Sometimes computer viruses are created to target a specific organization and take down its network or disable some function of that organization. So much of the world is now run with computers running some sort of Internet application that if one can disable this they can disable an organization. From an international perspective there is the concept of "cyber-warfare" where countries employ computer experts to either hack into computer systems or target viruses to other countries or organizations within that country.
Free Anti-virus Programs
There are many legitimate paid-for programs on the market and a typical computer user should have no problem finding a retailer willing to sell them one. Most people don't realize, however, that there are excellent free anti-virus programs that work as well as any program you would pay for. These free programs will often have a base set of features that are offered for free, and then advanced features that you can pay for. Two of the most highly rated and widely used free anti-virus programs are Avast and AVG. Each has an excellent free anti-virus package available for free and both offers increased functionality for a small fee.
Two Squares operates out of Denver Colorado and offers various computer repair and virus removal services.


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