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Malware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware

« Malware »

The term « malware » or « malicious software » is used for any type of software that can affect your computer equipment’s performance and functionality, either locally or remotely. Computer viruses, Trojan horses and worms are all considered « malware ».

Viruses, worms and Trojan horses

All three of these terms are used to describe malicious software that has infiltrated your computer through the Internet. Let’s take a look at how this happens

Your computer becomes infected with one of these parasites through a « door » into your computer; this « door » is opened when you download a piece of software, open an email or visit a website with an untrusted source. Once the malware enters your computer, it sleeps in your computer until its functions are triggered; the functions may vary depending on the type of malware.

A virus infects « host » files on your computer, and then it is transmitted to other users when you send out those files. This is how computer viruses spread. The virus’ effects may vary from decreased computer performance to a complete loss of the computer’s functionality.

A Trojan horse or « Trojan », infiltrates your computer through a file that you download and open. Unlike viruses, most Trojans stay on your computer only. They cause damage, but they do not spread to other computers. A Trojan is a piece of malware that stays in one place rather than spreading.

A computer worm infiltrates your computer when you download a file or an email. The worm then clones itself and attacks other devices on your network. The worm will infect your files, and will spread to the computers of people who you communicate with, in the same way that it infiltrated your computer

Spyware

In most cases, « Spyware » installs itself on your computer in the same way as a Trojan horse does. Spyware spies on everything you do: paying your bills online, watching online videos, using Facebook, etc. It compiles this information and sends it to a database that then affects your web browsing. Depending on your preferences and your browsing history, the database will suggest « promotional offers » or other scams. Spyware can also download and install viruses on your computer or open « pop-up » when you are surfing the web.

How can you avoid « malware » ?

By using antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-malware programs. You can purchase these programs or download them for free. But be careful; you shouldn’t necessarily download the first antivirus program that you find, because the program might be a fake, and might transmit a virus! Here is a list of paid and free programs that you can use to protect your computer.

Note that Oricom Internet does not accept any responsibility for these programs and does not provide technical support for them. These options are intended only as suggestions.

Fee-based software

Kaspersky Antivirus: You can find this program in any computer software store; prices may vary. It is an excellent antivirus program; it is always enabled and active on your computer. Kaspersky warns you if it does not trust a website that you are trying to access. It is also offered with a registry manager and parental controls.

Norton Antivirus: The basic version of Norton Antivirus does an excellent job of cleaning your computer. This program has been around for a long time, so its virus database is very comprehensive. However, the « Internet Security » and « Norton 360 » versions may drag down your computer’s performance and speed. In addition, when you uninstall Norton, it may cause problems with web browsing or with the installation of other software. You must download Norton’s removal tool; you can easily find it on Google.

McAfee Antivirus: The full version of McAfee works very well, but when it expires or you try to uninstall it, it may cause browsing problems and refuse to uninstall. You must use McAfee’s removal tool; you can easily find it using Google.

Avast: Avast’s fee-based version does an excellent job of cleaning your computer. But for virus prevention, you should use an additional program because Avast does not scan your computer in real time, so it does not offer enough protection. Make sure not to let Avast expire, and make sure to correctly uninstall it in order to avoid problems with web browsing or with installing another antivirus program. In order to correctly uninstall Avast, make sure to find the Avast uninstall tool on Google.

Free programs

Avast: Adequate cleaning capabilities. Avast is free for a certain period of time. When it expires, it can cause problems with web browsing and software installation because it has not been correctly uninstalled or renewed using the paidversion. In order to correctly uninstall Avast, make sure to find the Avast uninstall tool on Google.

AVG: Known as the original antivirus software. Used to be very reliable, but its database has been neglected for two or three years. A good solution if it is used in conjunction with Avast to clean your computer. The free version of AVG does not include a firewall and does not scan in real time. So, a different antivirus program may be better at protecting your computer.

Malwarebytes: The best tool for cleaning your computer; applies to both free and paid versions. Easy to install, does not run automatically so you can use it only when you need it. It has a very complete database and it analyzes your computer very effectively to clean viruses and malware. Strongly recommended as a cleaning tool if your virus prevention program fails.

How can I be sure that my computer is safe?

Make sure that your equipment is secure; if you have a router, make sure that it is password-protected.

Turn on the Windows firewall and use a password to log in to your computer. If someone tries to use your computer, they have to know your password.

You can also use two antivirus programs on the same computer, but never run them at the same time. The best solution is to have real-time virus protection software such as Microsoft Security Essentials, as well as a virus cleaning program such as Malwarebytes, which you only use to scan your computer.

In order to avoid malware, always be aware of what you are doing. For example, do not open email attachments if you do not know the sender. If you receive a link from someone you do not know, do not click on it. Delete the message. If you are not sure where a link or an email comes from or whether it is legitimate, ignore it and delete it.

Some operating systems such as Mac OS X are less likely to be infected. Virus programmers primarily concentrate on Windows because it is the most common operating system worldwide. Using a Mac may be a less risky option from an Internet security point of view, but its functionality is not the same as that of the Windows operating system.

The best form of security is being aware and alert about your Internet use.