Malware Report: Summer 2012
The summer of 2012 has been full--from the Olympics in London to Curiosity landing on Mars to the U.S. presidential election campaigning, not to mention numerous uprisings and conflicts throughout the world. Hacker groups are on the rise and have taken full advantage of the events for both good and bad. We've heard about numerous hacks into government networks and tales of stolen consumer information. It would appear that technological attacks are stronger than ever, and only gaining in power and breadth. We've got an infographic for you outlining some hacking tools--malware and spam--and their stats from this past summer. more ...
Worms and Viruses and Bears, Oh My.
A computer worm is different than a computer virus. Yes, they are both self-replicating, but a computer virus is not always self-contained. This means that a computer virus can sneak into other system files and keep spreading and infecting files within that targeted computer; a virus depends on other files to spread. On the other hand, a computer worm likes to work alone; it does not need other files to spread and typically does not infect existing files on the computer more ...
Your Guide To AntiVirus Software
Viruses, malware, trojans, spyware, bugs. It seems like we learn about a new weapon against technology every day, and they're getting smarter and more dangerous than was previously imagined. How are you keeping your personal information safe? Antivirus software is a must-have for any computer or mobile device.
How does antivirus software work?
The most common method of antivirus software uses signature-based detection, where the software compares the contents of a file to an encyclopedia of viruses. If there is a match, the software can either destroy the virus or cut off the virus' access to other files. Because viruses and worms are continuously being created, though, the encyclopedia becomes quickly outdated. It is for this reason that most antivirus software must be updated on a yearly basis, in order to track down the most recent viruses.
The software may also identify a malicious virus or malicious file by its suspicious behavior. It does this by monitering all files, flagging abnormal behavior, and alerting the computer user. While this is more effective in identifying brand new viruses, it also creates a high number of false positives.
Does it work?
While antivirus software can seriously decrease the chances of a virus infecting your computer, it is still a work in progress. In February 2010, a test was conducted to see how well antivirus software protects computers. Some software proved to be highly effective with scores as upwards of 99.6%, and the lowest score was 81.8%. Although no software actually scored 100%, antivirus software is constantly coming out with new and improved updates and could realistically obtain a perfect score in the near future.
Regardless, the answer to that question is yes. Antivirus software does protect your computer and sensitive information from much of the web's dangers.
What makes good antivirus software?
Some of the best and most important features should include virus and spyware protection, email scans, file protection, quick scan, real time scans and updates, and identity protection.
You will also want to make sure that the antivirus protection you choose is user-friendly and easy to install. Look for a company that provides excellent customer service and perhaps some kind of tutorial in case you run into a problem or question. Many antivirus software companies today have around-the-clock customer support.
The most important part of finding decent antivirus software is doing research. Find out how long the company has been in business and compare features to other companies. Make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck by calling customer service and asking questions.
How much does it usually cost?
Pricing can range from as little as $20 a year for basic protection to $80 a year for expert protection. Most antivirus software can be purchased over the Internet and can is easily renewed each year. However, almost all software will send you notifications between 30 and 90 days before the protection is about to expire. This helpful reminder will ensure that you are never without antivirus protection.
Where did viruses come from?
Before the Internet became commonplace, viruses were spread through infected floppy disks and antivirus software was nowhere near what it is today. Software was updated infrequently and scans were done by checking only executable files and certain sectors of disks. As the Internet became popular, viruses evolved and began to spread.
Viruses created in the 1980's were meant to simply duplicate and had no intention of damage or harm. After toying with the encoding, however, programmers found that they could create viruses that would manipulate and destroy a computer's data.
The first effective virus created was called the "Creeper Virus" which was an experimental self-duplicating program written by Bob Thomas in 1971. It would display the message "I'm the creeper, catch me if you can!" but did no real harm to the computer and was quickly deleted. By 1974, the "Wabbit Virus" was able to make copies of itself and clog computer systems, eventually crashing the infected computer. 1981 brought about the first large-scale virus dubbed "Elk Cloner", which attacked Apple II systems. The term "virus" was coined by computer scientist Frederick Cohen in 1983.
In 1995, the first Macro virus, called "Concept," was created and infected Microsoft Word documents. By the year 2000, viruses were widespread. In May of 2000, the ILOVEYOU worm was created and for four years held the title of most costly virus to businesses and caused nearly ten billion dollars' worth of damage. In January of 2004, a mailer worm called "MyDoom" was released and still holds the record of fastest-spreading mass mailer worm.