This is the first of a multipart series on common types of malware and other computer hazards. For those who have managed services with Micro Visions, we’re keeping an eye on threats for you. However, there are always small things you can do to further protect yourself.

Part 1: Viruses and Worms

A virus is a self-replicating piece of code that travels between machines. Essentially, computer flu. It alters how a computer operates, which allows an attacker to corrupt, destroy, or steal data. Viruses reproduce and spread, which is often the cause of mysterious spam emails. One type of virus sends mass emails to contacts, and clicking on the links inside those emails downloads the virus to the next computer. Another way viruses get into a computer is through something called Rogueware. This creates a pop-up that tells you that your computer has a virus, and clicking on that pop-up will fix it (to oversimplify a bit). Either way, for a virus to activate, an executable file must be opened or activated.

Although viruses were designed to protect software from piracy or to prank unsuspecting colleagues, they’ve gotten nasty. Most attackers use them now either to vandalize or steal data, which they can also do with worms. A worm is similar to a virus, but it does not require preexisting programs to infect a computer. Rather, a worm is its own standalone program that moves through unsecured (or poorly secured) computer networks to infect other machines. However, the effects are largely the same as those of a virus.

What to do?

Micro Visions protects against viruses and worms with monitoring and antivirus software (and cleans them out, if your computer already has one). To protect yourself, beware of phishing emails. Avoid websites or links that seem suspicious. IMPORTANT: Your phone can also get viruses, and it is especially vulnerable to apps with malware. Do your research before downloading.