In computing terms, a ‘virus’ can have a very broad meaning. It is often used to describe any infectious programme that can spread and cause damage within the system. Yet, there is more than just one type of ‘virus’.
Knowing some of the more common terms can help in understanding information given to you by your anti-virus software, and in knowing which type of infection you have if you discover that your computer has a virus. The majority of viruses, such as worms, trojans and spyware, can be collectively referred to as malware. As the name suggests, they are categorised by being malicious software that cause damage to your computer. Other viral infections can be categorised under the label of passive adware.
Worms are a very common virus, and can spread quickly. Worms are identifiable by their ability to replicate themselves easily. They do not need to use another programme to spread. They can, however, still cause vast amounts of damage, many often deploying a ‘payload’ to reach a specific goal. There is a chance this will cause considerable damage to your machine.
As the name suggests, Trojans can often appear as something more safe. Trojans will often be disguised as another programme, often one that you are encouraged to download. Once on a system, a Trojan will cause severe damage, but will often exploit or create advantages in your system to allow other viruses in.
Due to this nature, it is important to detect Trojans as soon as possible. An updated firewall will be aware of the latest trojans, and help block them from installing onto your computer to begin with.
Spyware viruses often try to hide on a computer system, whilst taking private information and data without your consent. They will often record browser history, passwords and other sensitive data, which will often be further sent or shared elsewhere.
Furthermore, more advanced spyware will also affect your system in more ways, such as redirecting your website to specific websites or installing specific programmes. Whilst the spyware will not render the system unusable, it will make the actual programmes and operating system unsafe to use.
Adware is a similar virus to spyware. Rather than steal information, adware will redirect to websites or create pop-up, and often removable adverts on your desktop. It should be noted, however, that adware and spyware are often interchangeable, displaying any of the characteristics of each.
Due to potential threats in the form of viruses, it is important to keep a computer system safe at all times. Anti-virus software and firewalls are a necessity. Even on other operating systems other than Windows, this is always an issue. Fortunately, anti-virus for Mac is available. There are viruses designed for numerous systems, so no computer is perfectly safe from attack.
Finally, it is worth testing a product before buying it. Free anti-virus downloads are available without an initial purchase if you wish to try them first. Either way, it is important that your computer is safe and free from viruses.