Origin of Computer Viruses

3/8/2004 By:

Question: Where do viruses come from and how are they made?

The IT Guy says:
Computer viruses are computer programs or code sequences written generally by unscrupulous computer users who evidently have too much free time on their hands. There is a difference between a virus, a Trojan horse, and a worm. Symantec Corporation differentiates viruses into five different types: those that infect files, those that infect the boot sector of your hard drive, master boot record viruses (similar to boot sector variety,) multi-partite viruses that infect both program files and bootup files, and macro viruses. Macro viruses are the most prevalent and are embedded in files from programs like MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, etc. A Trojan horse is an imposter file that a user must take action to activate, often by opening a file attachment that appears legitimate. Trojan horses do not replicate themselves like a true virus does. A computer "worm" is a program that spreads itself to another computer without a "host file." Viruses use a host file to propagate themselves while worms do not. Each of these computer programs are undesirable, but virus hoaxes can cause problems too, especially when users take action based on inaccurate or misleading information. All computer users should be savvy about basic types of viruses, Trojan horses, and worms. GetNetWise.org has some good information related not only to internet safety, but also concerning viruses and protecting against hackers.

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