What causes computers to get infected with viruses?
The common term now-days is “malware” which is short for “malicious software”. Virus, Trojan, Spyware, Adware, etc, are all variants of the same theme. It is a program that is running on your computer that you didn’t put there, that is up to no good.
How do they get there?
If a computer was installed with windows, turned off, and put in a closet on a shelf it would remain uninfected forever.
If it is turned on but not connected to the internet, your chances are much better, however if someone puts in a memory stick (or, floppy disk if you’re in the 1990’s) it can get infected if the memory stick or floppy disk is infected with a virus.
However, many viruses today are spread over the internet. If a computer is connected directly to the internet with nothing in between it and the internet, many people will attempt to scan your computer’s ports. An analogy of this is a burglar walking around your house jiggling all your doorknobs.
Most computers today are running Windows, and many are not patched and updated. Another analogy for this would be that the locks on your house are found to be easy to pick, and your home builder sends you updated locks for your doors, but you don’t take them out of the box and install them on your doors. So, burglars are able to easily break into the houses that don’t have the updated locks. In the same way, an unpatched computer can have security faults that are widely known, allowing people to exploit your computer with ease.
It is said that if someone connects to the internet a computer with windows XP on it that is totally unpatched with the version of windows XP that was originally released years ago, it will be compromised and broken into within 5 to 10 minutes.
Malware is any software that runs on your computer that intends to harm you, inconvenience you, steal your information, or spy on you. Viruses, Spyware, Adware, Trojans and Keyloggers are all forms of Malware.
The following has been linked to malware infections:
Programs such as:
Limewire and Frostwire or other peer-to-peer file sharing programs
Weather tracking programs
Screensaver and Desktop Background programs
Bundled software like MyFreeze.com
Fake Antivirus downloads like Personal Antivirus and Antivirus 360
Websites such as:
Facebook, Myspace, Pornography sites, Illegal software download sites, Illegal music downloading sites, or any website that has been hacked and compromised (drive-by downloads)
Mistakes such as:
Never updating Windows from Windows Update
Not running an Antivirus program, or not updating it
Using a USB memory stick that has been infected with malware
Running an unexpected attachment that is sent to you via email or instant messaging programs
The best defense against malware is an educated user.
Malware does not just make your computer slow.
You need to ask yourself this: What is that malware doing that is making my computer slow? It must be doing something because my computer is working hard!
It is! Years ago, Computer Viruses were made by bored computer programmers with a mean streak. They were only intended to hurt you and damage your computer.
Today, Virues, Trojans and Malware in general is written and deployed for one purpose and one purpose only: MONEY.
Malware can and does do the following:
Watch where you go on the internet so someone can sell you something
Watch you do your online shopping so someone can steal your credit card information and / or your identity
Lie to you that your computer is infected with viruses so someone can sell you a fake antivirus and take your money
Install programs on your computer without you knowing it so someone can use your computer to send spam to millions of people around the world
Install programs on your computer without you knowing it so someone can use your computer to attack websites for ransom or bounty
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