What is a Computer Virus?

In modern times, most people are aware to one degree or another of computer viruses. But exactly what are computer viruses? (Continued here).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What to do about Computer Viruses

How to Deal with Computer Viruses

There are many ways in which a virus can infect your PC. But regardless of weather it is a harmful virus or an annoying "practical joke," it is dangerous to let one loose on your system, and it should be dealt with immediately.

Whether you are connected to the Internet or not, it is safest to have an antivirus program installed on your computer. If you are connected to the Internet, it is basically a must.

Types of Antivirus Programs

There are two types of anti virus programs. Both do more or less the same thing, but use different methods. Both types of programs are constantly on the lookout for viruses on your computer, but they do so in different ways.

The first one keeps a list of known viruses and virus types, called "virus definitions." This list of virus definitions is called a virus library. It constantly looks through your computer, checking to see if anything coming into your computer is a virus. It does so by comparing all things coming in with what it has stored in its "virus library".

Any file, document, or program coming into your computer is inspected and compared to this library to see if it matches any of the "virus definitions." One disadvantage of this system is that if a new virus comes out that is different than the viruses stored in your library, this type of antivirus program will not detect it and will allow it onto your computer.

When using such a program, it is important to have a subscription, and to be connected to the Internet, so that your virus definitions are constantly updated. New viruses come out every day. If you choose such a program, one of the things to check for is how often the virus definitions are updated. This will play an important role in keeping your computer safe.

The second type of anti-virus program is called a HEURISTIC program. "Heuristic" means "learning by discovery or trail and error." It comes from the Greek word "heuriskin," which means "to discover".

In other words, the program is capable of discovering new viruses not already known. It is written in such a way that it is able to learn and discover new viruses, without having to refer to a library. This program will most likely also have a library of virus definitions. But in addition to detecting already known viruses, it is able to detect new viruses, and is therefore a more secure program.

Will My Antivirus Program Drain my Computer of Energy?

One final thing to take into account, when choosing an anti-virus program, is how much computer power your anti-virus program uses. It is all fine to have the biggest antivirus program in the world, but that might not leave much computer power left for you to run your other programs. This is an important factors for you to take into account. Otherwise, you may run into a situation where, instead of viruses slowing your computer down, your antivirus program is slowing your computer down!

Some of the common Antivirus programs are as follows:

Kaspersky Antivirus

AVG Free Anti-Virus

Panda Software Anti-Virus Products

Trend Micro


Panda Software Anti-Virus Products

For reviews of these antivirus programs and my own experience with them, please see the post here:

Reviews of Antivirus Programs

What You Can Do to Protect Others from Phishers

(if you have not read the description of what phishing is you may see it here).

Helping Protect Others from Phishers

By reporting phishing to both volunteer and industry groups, such as PhishTank, you can help to protect others from phishers.

Other anti-phishing methods have been developed, and have been included in web browsers, toolbars, and as part of web page login procedures. A few examples are as follows:
  • Since phishing is based on the phisher pretending to be someone or someone or something else, one can prevent it if one can recognize whether a site is reliable or not. There are toolbars available that display which site one is really on.
  • Firefox allows you to type in "petname extensions" and make your own labels for websites that you visit. Using this function, you will be able to recognize if you are on the right site or not, when you go back there later. If the site is false, the software will either warn you, or block the site. (You can download Firefox for free with the link at the bottom of this page.)
  • Another method used by browsers is to keep lists of clean sites and lists of known phishing sites and, to verify websites against this list. To date, Firefox has been found to be the most effective at detecting false sites (according to software testing companies).
There are other methods of countering phishing attempts, but this is the basic picture. Aside from a few computer programs that make it harder for phishers to target you, the main weapon to use to combat phishing is an awareness of the phenomena. With this, one can recognize it where it occurs, and avoid falling into the trap.

You can help, by making others aware of phishing, and of the methods used in order to gain access to personal information.

I have attempted to write this article in such a way that anyone can understand it.

Please feel free to distribute links to this article, so that others can also be aware, and less susceptible to phishing.