November the 3rd, 1988, was named as ‘Black Thursday’ after the Internet suffered from a systematic attack from the ‘Internet worm’. Approximately 70% of the interconnected systems were out of order. Twelve years later, the popular site Yahoo.com experienced a denial of service (DoS) attack and thousands of users could not access their emails. This was followed by a renowned financial institution accidentally allowing all its online customers access to all customer records – this clear breach of confidentiality appeared after an upgrade of web banking software.
Eleven years later, the state-of-the-art internet technology is facing mammoth security challenges. The threat landscape continues to evolve as well as grow exponentially. As computers and other digital devices inch closer to becoming indispensable parts of our lives one is overwhelmed with a lot of questions about viruses, internet related threats and computer security.
When researchers were still dabbling with computers they experimented with programs that could replicate and copy themselves from one computer to another automatically. Developed in the early ‘80’s these programs were quite similar to PC viruses with the only difference being that they were created for the sole purpose of analysis and exploration.
The first PC virus that spread to large number of PCs and was in-the-wild was C-Brain developed by two brothers from Pakistan during 1986. Today, with the wide-spread use of Internet and extensive use of computers even by non-technical professionals the situation is far more favorable for cyber criminals to exploit and thrive upon this opportunity. This has turned Internet into a thriving lair for viruses.
Simply put the computer virus is a program that possesses the capability to copy itself and infect a computer automatically without any user interaction. It spreads across disks and networks by making copies of itself, usually surreptitiously. Viruses generally behave like parasites i.e. they alter another item so that when this file is executed or run the virus code becomes active.
There are different kinds of threats to computers from various types of programs like spywares, worm, trojans, etc. collectively known as Malwares. ‘Computer Virus’ is a term often used as a catch-all term by many for computer worms, torjans, spwares, sneakers, sniffers, bots, adware, malwares, etc.
When a computer virus settles in a system, it can:
Corrupt the system files.
Monitor or spy on the information that is being sent, received or accessed from your computer.
Steal sensitive information like passwords, PIN numbers, etc.
Viruses can also affect the normal functioning of your computer by slowing it down or wiping out data.
Open access for hackers to perform remote activities.
Even when you are using a computer for checking e-mails, browsing websites or sharing data using USB drives there is a chance of it getting infected by virus. Virus can enter your computer through CDs, USB drives, infected websites, e-mail attachments, pirated software, shareware or through networks.
Prior to ‘Black Thursday’, security issues were never mentioned. This event triggered the necessity to add security operations to the Internet.
Passwords and access control systems can prevent you from un-authorized access to your computer but not from viruses. The easiest and most guaranteed option is to use a reliable anti-virus program to scan your computer to know if it is virus infected. Anti-virus programs are designed to scan a computer for viruses and clean the infection. Anti-Virus programs also provide features to prevent further spread of infection in the computer.
There are antivirus tools like Quick Heal which has several features like AntiVirus, AntiSpyware, AntiMalware, AntiSpam, AntiPhishing, Parental Control, PC2Mobile, PCTuner, etc. Such AntiVirus softwares give multi-layered protection for your PC along with added security for your mobile phones.
Software like these guarantee your peace of mind by protecting your PC against risks on the internet, without taking away your freedom to surf the internet, chat, make e-purchases without worrying about losing your personal information or corrupting system files.