Trojans, Viruses, Worms A Basic Understanding of Viruses Trojans, and Worms

Most small business owners have probably seen news reporting on viruses, worms, and Trojans, but they may not have a terribly clear understanding of how these forms of malware operate and present a threat to a company’s data security.  This is unfortunate, since knowledge is power.  Business owners and managers who are conversant with malware terminology are the ones who are best positioned to choose the right kinds of computer protection when they are discussing their options with an IT support firm.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a malicious program that is designed not only to cause various kinds of havoc, but to reproduce itself and spread from system to system.  It is this last characteristic that has given it the name of “virus.”  Some viruses are merely annoying, causing a system to run more slowly, while others are highly destructive, causing serious problems such as destroying vital data – sometimes in ways that make full disaster recovery difficult to accomplish.

Viruses tend not to exist as standalone files on a system.  Instead, a virus will know how to insert itself into an executable file.  This is why anti-virus programs need to perform in-depth scans of all files on a hard drive – a virus could be hiding inside any one of a large number of innocent looking files.

What is a Trojan?

In ancient Greek mythology, the Trojans were tricked into bringing a wooden horse into their city.  During the night, Greek warriors emerged from the hollow interior of the horse to slaughter the city’s residents.  Likewise, a computer Trojan is a program that looks attractive, encouraging users to download it.  Once installed, however, the program performs malicious activity such as monitoring web usage, stealing data on the computer, or deleting files.  Many Trojans lurk quietly in the background since if they are detected they will be attacked.  Unfortunately for computer users, there are many programs online purporting to be anti-malware that are actually Trojans – in other words, malware themselves.  Businesses working closely with an IT support firm have an excellent source of advice about which anti-malware programs can actually be trusted.

What is a worm?

Trojans do not usually seek to spread themselves further, but worms, like viruses, do.  Viruses can only spread when an infected file is transmitted to another system, but worms are programs that stand alone and use system vulnerabilities to spread themselves.  In recent years, worms have also begun to spread by using social engineering tricks to persuade users into clicking on a button that will install them.  For example, a pop-up on a website may have a button that says “close.”  That button, however, may be programmed to install a worm, which is why users are better off closing down the browser program itself when confronted with an unexpected query.

Great Lakes Computer offers powerful products for detecting and eliminating dangerous viruses and malware. Our products are powered by Kaseya, the award-winning leading global provider of IT Systems Management software.  Contact Us today to ensure your company’s data is secure!

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