Demystifying the world of computer viruses: how to avoid them

In 2017, a computer virus called ‘WannaCry’ shook the foundations of not only large international companies but also by home users around the world. This virus exploits a vulnerability in the Windows operating system to carry out a cyber attack that inhabilitaba computers and asked to change his release, a sum of money. The virus circled the world and returned to create awareness in the society about the importance of Internet safety.

But alarms are not always justified. Sometimes they run hoaxes about supposed viruses in circulation that have no real basis and that it is worth checking before putting in guard. Zero risk does not exist and the hazards are always there, but doing our part we can do a lot by avoiding them.

The first computer virus that is known was created in 1972 and attacked basically the operating system Tenex, which incorporated the american computers for research and teaching. All viruses have a name and that it was called Creeper. Its creator was the engineer, Bob Thomas, and had no malicious intentions. The virus traveling through the network and replicated by launching the message “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can” (I’m the Creeper, catch me if tou can).

To counteract the action of Creeper is created Reaper, considered to be the first antivirus in history. By that time the names of viruses and antivirus were not used yet. The term was coined in the 80’s, when came the first malicious virus. Since then, they have created a multitude of viruses, some of them very aggressive. The experts do not agree in deciding what has been the most damaging of the story as there have been many that have put in check the computers of millions of users, but you may stand out from among all the CHI, or ‘Chernobyl’. This virus was created in 1998 and affected around 60 million computers with the Windows operating systems 95, 98, and Millenium. Removed all the data from the teams, and even prevented his boot. There have also been cases of viruses that were absolutely harmless despite having been created to destroy: the Spanish ‘Bars’ that I had intended to delete the data stored on the infected computer, this never came to work. The virus was programmed to run on the 22nd of the month, but by error it was established that it was the day 34, so that never came to work.

Types of computer viruses

The decade of the 80 he lived to the outbreak of computer viruses malicious. One of the first was Rabbit, which is autorreplicaba on the same computer until you get lock. Then came the Elk Cloner, affected the Apple II and the Brain, which infected computers with IBM.

From that moment on he started to developed a classification of computer viruses, grouped in function of their effects on the operating systems.

  • Resident viruses: they live in the memory of the computer and corrupt the files as they are opening or closing.

  • Virus of direct action: are not installed in the memory, but in the root directory of the hard drive and act at the time a program is run.

  • Virus overwriting: they are installed in the computer files, destroy content, and replaced by others without changing its size.

  • Virus localized on the desktop: also called virus cluster or cluster, alter the location of the files when you try to access them through the desktop.

  • System Virus boot: they act when you boot the hard disk.

Another child class of viruses are:

  • Trojan or Trojan horse: hides behind a seemingly inoffensive, as it can be a program improvement; and encourages it to be able to access your computer remotely to steal personal information. Which is considered the king of the trojans was called Zeus and it came to infect more than 3 million computers in the united States alone. It was so effective that affected 77% of the computers with anti-virus up to date.

  • Worms: it is a malware (software that is malicious) that spreads by exploiting the transfer of files. Causing a jam in the operating system and consumes bandwidth. One of the most well-known was the ‘Morris’, who in 1988 became infected 10% of the 60,000 computers that had an internet connection at that time.

  • Spyware: this software spy collects data from the computer and transmits them to another destination to use the information. According to virus experts as Kaspersky Lab, the virus ‘Skygofree’ is considered as one of the most powerful of the story. Affects smartphones and can give hackers complete control of the terminal.

  • Adware: trace the memory of the computer to detect the user’s preferences and show you advertisements without your consent. In the year 2015, there was a period of several months in which computers Lenovo came with adware pre-installed called Superfish. This adware had a vulnerability that gave access to the personal data of the users.

  • Browser hijackers: are entered in the browser to direct you to certain web sites.

  • Virus email: are expanded when you open an e-mail. Still remember the virus I LOVE YOU, that was propagated through this pathway and in the year 2000, in just 5 hours, it came to infect 10% of all computers connected to the internet at that time, generating damage valued at 10,000 million euros.

  • Ransonware: these are elements that block or “sequester” the computer and only release it in exchange of a ransom, as the Wannacry.

How do you protect against computer viruses?

Install an anti-virus is effective, but you have to know that the operating system itself has internal mechanisms to protect oneself. For example, the well-known Windows Defender protects the computer from possible viruses and spyware. It is included by default in the operating systems Windows Vista and Windows 7, 8, and 10. In 2009 the company introduced the Windows Security Essentials, which fulfills the same function for home computers and desktop that has been updated since then. In addition, there are other free antivirus that we can also provide security, such as Avast or Kaspersky.

These programs are apparently simple, but are quite effective at removing trojans, viruses, worms, and spyware. If a user navigates to secure sites, in principle, would be more than enough to keep your computer protected. Yes, it is necessary to be aware of the updates.

To increase this protection, especially if working with sensitive data, it is best to install any antivirus. But there are other preventative actions that we can perform:

  • Be careful with social networks and messaging: they are a route used to transmit viruses. You have to be cautious and to avoid opening images or videos without checking its origin.

  • Close the page when the browser indicates that a site is not secure.

  • Do not download files of dubious origin.

  • Do not accept photos via Messenger contacts unknown.

  • Do not click on pop-up windows or suspicious advertising.

  • It is advisable to make backup copies of the files with a certain periodicity.

Myths and legends about computer viruses

Around computer viruses are circulating false information that it is important to clarify, because they determine the way you browse the Internet.

  1. Viruses are easy to detect: today, viruses are much more sophisticated than before, and many times go unnoticed because the computer works normally.

  2. The viruses enter the e-mail: fake. While it is true that the mail can be a route of infection, is introduced also by browsing on the Internet or through social networks. Some of the last great infections as Wannacry have occurred through internal networks of the companies.

  3. When a computer runs slow is that it has a virus: there are multiple reasons why a computer can run slowly, as the lack of maintenance of the operating system, have a lot of programs that load on start-up or even not clean inside from long ago.

  4. If it goes blue screen is that there is a virus: blue screen usually go out by drivers or software is defective.

  5. The pages of porn they are full of viruses: it is not true at all. The porn industry moves a lot of capital and work in an increasingly safe, but you should be careful with it also. Yes tends to be true in the case of pages of illegal downloads.

  6. Apple computers are immune to cyber attacks: according to data released by the antivirus company Norton, these devices receive around 600,000 attacks on a monthly basis. The advantage is that being less present on the market there are a smaller number of developers of viruses who is interested in these computers.

The most dangerous of 2018

The National Institute of Cybersecurity of Spain accounted for the past year, more than 120,000 cyber-attacks in Spain, primarily aimed at large companies. Among the most aggressive of 2018 are the following: Confiker, Nivdort, Zeus, Zero Access, or Viari. The majority act to steal data or passwords to bank.

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