A computer virus is a software program designed to interfere with the normal computer functioning by infecting the computer operating system (Szor, 2005). These viruses have the capability of spreading from one computer to another. They are also capable of multiplying. Viruses cause myriads of working challenges to computers ranging from destruction of files, slowing down computer performance, renaming files in computers and eventually making it difficult to access stored files (Szor, 2005).
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These viruses can spread from one computer to another through an internet connection and sharing of floppy disks, flash discs and any other external and portable device that can transfer data from one machine to another. Viruses are distinguished from worms because they cannot run automatically (Szor, 2005). Therefore, the user of a computer must perform a function that will necessitate their operations.
The virus programs are not-self generated within a computer system. However, they are designed and produced by computer hackers. The hackers who design most common computer viruses usually come up with the names (US-CERT, 2012).
Some of these viruses include Melissa, the Anna Kournikova, MyDoom, Sasser & Netsky, the ILOVEYOU virus, The Klez Virus, Code Red and Code Red II, Nimda virus, SQL Slammer/Sapphire virus, Leap-A/Oompa-A virus, and Storm Worm (US-CERT, 2012). All these viruses are tools used by hackers to destroy and access remote computer files.
There are many ways through which a computer can be infected by a virus. These may range from direct access such as file sharing to remote access portals such as using internet connectivity. For a computer virus to be effective, it must be allowed to run by the user through various means (US-CERT, 2012). A computer user can accept any new message on the screen without knowing the information in the file.
In this way, a computer virus is then allowed to run, causing harm to the computer. If a computer user opens unknown attachments, then viruses can easily find access into files in a computer. If a computer’s operating system is not updated, it will not be able to filter viruses, making it more vulnerable to attacks (US-CERT, 2012).
In addition, downloading files from unsecure sources allows viruses to gain access to a computer. Viruses can also be hidden within some software. For instance, during software installation, viruses are allowed to infiltrate into computer files (US-CERT, 2012).
Viruses have become a major challenge to several companies across the world. However, some measures can be taken to regulate the spread of these computer viruses. For instance, the use of an updated antivirus program sourced from a reputable vendor offers computer protection against most viruses (US-CERT, 2012).
The antivirus must be frequently updated and configured to automatically start as the computer is switched on. Besides, the antivirus should be configured to allow regular virus scanning and virus check when running executable file on the computer. Backing up data is also an important method of protecting a computer from loss of data due to virus infection. The internet is the most common source of viruses.
When dealing with any form of data from an online source, make sure that the source is well known. The use of USB data transfer gadgets should be well monitored and conducted with caution. The antivirus in this case should be used to scan USB drives before accessing the files. The most important protection is making sure that the operating system is updated and the firewall is always activated.
It is also possible to erase crucial information from hard disc drives using viruses. This information may be data collected from a crime scene, banking records, confidential files, and even important government files (Szor, 2005). The use of viruses can manipulate important computer information such as bank records resulting into an individual accessing vital and confidential records. The development and use of viruses has always been aimed at committing crime either directly or indirectly.
Szor, P. (2005). The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Professional. US-CERT (2012). Virus Basics. Retrieved from https://www.us-cert.gov/publications/virus-basics