Worms: Prevented, not fried thank you.

Welcome back to all our readers. In this weeks exciting and fun-filled edition of The Weekly Geek we are going to continue on our quest to find out more about the malicious side of the internet and how to protect your computer.

This week we are going to delve into “worms”. No, not night crawlers, that is in the outdoors section of our friendly paper. We are discussing computer worms, which are, by definition, not a virus but act much the same way. They are self replicating, usually by searching not only your email contacts list but for any reference to any email address on your computer, generally they do not cause direct damage like a virus does.

Instead worms are intended to clog up the processor’s time (the brains of your computer) and slow down network traffic (your internet connection) by reproducing so many times that they effective overload the infected systems. This is called a Denial of Service (DoS) attack or a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Worms usually live in active memory and not on the hard drive.

Worms use known flaws in operating systems, internet browsers and email programs to infest a computer and to send itself out of the same system. In the past you have learned how to update Microsoft products and to get a new antivirus program and update it regularly. By following these two steps you will greatly enhance your protection.

One additional piece of security you should put into place is a firewall. I will cover firewalls in more detail in a future episode so stay tuned.

I have already listed the three best ways to keep worms at bay (An updated anti-virus program, updating your software, and a firewall). If you do not use Microsoft’s products (Internet Explorer and Outlook) you still need to update them and the other software brands you use. Some optional browsers are Mozilla, Netscape and Juno. Different email programs are Pegasus and Eudora. You need to check their sites monthly for updates and patches.

If you suspect that you have a worm or want to double check your computer, you can use any of the anti-virus programs free scanning tools that are on the internet. There are rare occasions that one vendor will temporarily miss a worm or virus that another vendor will catch. More…Feel free to give the following sites a once over.

  • AVG by Grisoft is located at www.grisoft.com
  • F-Prot by Frisk Software is located at www.f-prot.com
  • McAfee Anti-virus by Network Associates is at www.mcafee.com
  • Panda AV by Panda Software can be found at www.pandasoftware.com
  • RAV was created by GeCAD Software and can be found at www.ravantivirus.com
  • Symantec is the manufacturer of Norton Antivirus and located at www.symantec.com
  • Trend Micro owns PC-cillin located at www.trendmicro.com

These sites can take a while to scan and or download a scan utility, especially if you use a dial-up connection so have plenty of time and do not rush yourself.

In next weeks continuing saga of the internet we will study up on Trojan Horses and their effects on the Greek’s, the citizens of Troy and you, so stay tuned for the next exciting edition of The Weekly Geek.