What is a Virus?

It seems that almost everything that goes wrong with a computer is because of a virus. While some of that may be true, most computer issues are not due to the presence of a virus. That is not to say that a virus is not capable of damaging your computer because they are. The word virus has become rather broad in that everything is a virus when, in fact, a virus is very specifically defined as a self replicating program that is designed to spread through attachments or .exe files.

There are so many types of malicious software out there that the word virus can not contain all of their meanings. It is important that we understand some of the differences between malicious software so that we can better defend against it.

The Difference Between Malware and Virus.

Is it a virus or it is malware, perhaps it is both. You see a virus is malware, but malware contains so many other things that are not virus, like adware. So already we have discovered that the terminology that describes malicious software is not universal. The term malware is much larger and contains many types of malicious software including virus, than the term virus contains.

Another very common form of malware is the worm. Worms are very similar to a virus, but the biggest difference between the two is how they replicate. A virus must be activated through human error. The programming that makes up virus must be launched in order for the virus to become active. The worm, on the other hand, does not require human error to activate nor to spread. Worms actively seek out ports and networks that they can use to infect other machines. So the difference between a worm and a virus is how they replicate, and how they activate.

Fortunately for all of us, the modern version of antivirus programs are very capable of getting rid of most malware, including virus and worms. It is also important to understand that the best security system will fail if you do not allow it to update it’s definitions. The definitions are a compilation of data that describe how known virus, malware, etc. work. The security system looks for a special activity or behavior that alerts it to the potential identification of malicious software. Because technology is constantly changing, new forms of malware are created. If the security system does not have a definition for the newly created malware, it must rely solely on behavior as a tool to identify and contain threats. So even if your computer has an old version of antivirus, unless it is updated your computer will not be secure, and you are at risk for obtaining malware. Do yourself a favor and either buy a new security package or make sure that your existing one is updated. A very good and well respected security platform is Comodo, which can be found by visiting Comodo.com

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