Virus, Spyware and Worms

comp-virus.jpgThe IT growth has been phenomenal over the years, with software markets experiencing exponentially increasing demands of customized, user-specific application designing and deployment. But following the unchallengeable rule- “Everything in this world comes with a price tag”, here too the tremendous success of IT sector has many pros and cons embedded in its history. One of them is the huge emerging database of computer viruses and other malicious codes that corrupt the system files and degrade the healthy functioning of the operating system, thus threatening the optimum performance of the machine. Viruses show us how vulnerable we are to the devastating effects of a properly engineered virus, that disrupts productivity and damages billions of dollars in the bargain .

A virus is a program that infects the computer, disrupts its normal procedure and spreads by multiplying itself readily on the host computer. The virus may delete important files, modify registry or reformat the hard disk causing loss of significant system variables required for system boot. It causes the system to hang frequently or result in random unorganized flashing of pop-up windows and abrupt closing of applications coupled with delayed response to the user’s instructions. Its most common way of spreading is through attachments in e-mails or other executable files passed in instant messaging. Spyware, on the flipside, are computer software that forcibly break on the system data and intercept the user-control of the processes. It might take away the administrator privileges from the user, thus making the user unable to start/end system processes, install or de-install certain software or disable system protection. This reduced protection might pave the way for the intruders to attack the infected computer. Another category of virus is the ‘Trojan Horse’ which presents itself to be an executable file of some application, which on running activates the spread of the virus. A worm on the other hand exploits some sort of security hole in a piece of software or the operating system and establishes its roots there.

Some of the most deadly viruses that had choked the IT industry for a while include the “Mydoom” which infected approximately a quarter-million computers in a single day in January 2004. Further, back in March 1999, the ”Melissa” was so powerful that it forced Microsoft and a number of other very large companies to completely turn off their e-mail systems until the virus could be contained. The ”ILOVEYOU” in 2000, similarly, knocked down many systems, which was another case of breach of security. Though the pace with which new viruses are created and spread is unbelievingly fast, the only prevention one can expect to rely on is to keep the virus databases of the installed anti-virus programs up-to-date, keep the windows firewall utility ON and prevent exchanging any unsecured information over the worldwide web.

Ishant Arora

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