Bad things are out there in cyberspace waiting to slip into your computer system and wreak

havoc, steal your information, and generally make life miserable for you online until you remove them with good antivirus software.

If you follow the latest news pertaining to technology, you’re likely to hear terms like worms, viruses, and Trojans bandied about by talking heads, bloggers, and security experts. For most people, these terms are pretty interchangeable. They all mean trouble for your computer if they get past your virus protection program. The truth of the matter is that viruses, worms, and Trojans are all very different forms of malicious programming that can seriously damage your computer’s infrastructure in very different ways.

Knowing what these individual malicious agents are and how they operate can save you a great deal of time and effort when you suspect something has infected your system and need to go into search-and-destroy mode as quickly as possible. Regardless of what is infecting your system, your best bet to neutralize it is with a good antivirus application. Websites can offer reviews of Trojan removers, anti-spyware programs, and virus protection software to keep your system safe.

Here then is a basic outline of Trojans, worms, and viru

ses, how they work, and how to stop them.

What is a Virus?

Viruses are the most well-known class of troublemakers in the computer age. Two things must be true for a program to be classified as a virus.

  • It must execute itself.
  • It must replicate itself.

Viruses are created to do anything from introducing advertising to utterly destroying programs and files. Even worse, plenty of the viruses are flawed themselves, leading to crashes and software/hardware incompatibility. There are five recognized types of viruses in computer security circles.

  • File infectors viruses: These to what their names say: infect program files. They can also infect other files when the program they reside on is run.
  • Boot sector viruses: These viruses insert themselves into the boot record and then automatically are activated every time the computer starts up.
  • Master boot record viruses: These variations of boot sector viruses will save a legitimate copy of the master boot record somewhere else on your computer and replace it with a fraudulent one that includes the virus as a startup program.
  • Mulitipartite (polypartite) viruses: These are so named because they muddle up your program files and boot records. They are so effective because once one is found, users often kill the scan and remove only one part of the infection.
  • Macro viruses: The most common form, they infect data files. If there are files that are used by multiple programs, the macro virus can infect all of them in the blink of an eye.

What is a Worm?

Other than a healthy snack for birds and a terrible dance move, worms are standalone programs that spread copies of themselves to other machines. They usually do this through networks that aren’t running firewalls. Worms slow down systems because they generate lots of traffic. Once they are in your system, they are activated and start doing damage, whether it’s by spreading adware on your computer, infiltrating your personal information, or deleting your files wholesale.

What is a Trojan?

The most famous Trojan of all was the giant wooden horse used by the Greeks in their war with Troy. Disguised as a gift by seemingly defeated invaders, it was brought into Troy where the Greeks hidden inside emerged at night to slaughter their opponents. A Trojan horse in computer terms is the same thing. It looks like legitimate software but instead opens a backdoor into your system . This backdoor can be the gateway to anything, from using your Internet connection to do illegal activities to allowing malware of all shapes and designs onto your machine to exploit it, your data, and your contacts.

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