Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
“My security software tells me that the antivirus solution is about to expire. My son says we need not renew it if we are careful about our online activities. Or he can download a free antivirus. What do you think?” That’s Reena for you (if you are still not acquainted with her), she is the lady with a hundred-words-per-breath claim to fame (from my recent blogs)!
I turned to talk to her tech-savvy son but he was a picture of misery, all snivelling, shivering and achy. “Veer has caught the flu virus. I don’t know how that happened and just before his final exams too,” whined Reena. I grabbed the chance. “Your internet-enabled devices too can get infected with viruses, you know. Despite all your precautions, one small carelessness can lead to malware entering the system and corrupting it.” This got Reena worried. “We keep discussing terms like malware, hacks, virus and Trojans. Tell me what a ‘computer virus’ actually is and what it does.”
“Just like the flu virus that has entered Veer’s body, and is multiplying to cause trouble, a computer virus is a code that is designed to enter a computer and affect its functioning. It’s a program that replicates itself and can cause a computer to become a zombie spread the virus to other systems, get corrupted or even crash.”
“Oh dear! But if I don’t open email attachments from unverified sources then I am safe, am I not?”
“To an extent yes. With the advent of Internet, it has become easier for cyber crooks to spread the virus through spurious links or e-mail attachments. When an innocent user clicks on the link or opens an attachment and runs the program, the code gets activated. That said, a virus maybe designed to take advantage of a weakness in the browser or Operating System or E-mail service being used. In that case, the code would be embedded in the email itself.
Virus or malware can also spread through sharing of removable media and downloads from the net. Especially when those downloads are free, like wallpapers, GIFs, cards etc.”
“You mean to say Veer’s collection of cartoon GIFs might carry a virus?”
“Maybe, unless he had verified the websites before downloading. If your security software was running, it would have identified and removed suspicious-looking codes. Sometimes it’s not evident that the computer has been infected. These computers, called zombies, wait for further instructions from the attacker to get activated.”
“That decides it! I am getting all our devices protected today,” declared Reena emphatically. “But which should I get- the basic antivirus or the comprehensive security software you mentioned?”
“Definitely the latter, for better protection, better control over all your online accounts and better management of device security and children’s safety.” Watch out for my next blog to know more about comprehensive security software and cross-device protection!!
Till then, stay safe online!!
Want to know more about computer virus? Click here
Zombie: A computer that has been compromised by a virus or Trojan horse that puts it under the remote control of an online hijacker. The hijacker uses it to generate spam or makes the computer unusable to the owner, and the user is usually unaware that their computer has been compromised. Generally, a compromised machine is only one of many in a botnet, and will be used to perform malicious tasks under remote direction.
Trojan: Malicious programs disguised as legitimate software. Users are typically tricked into loading and executing it on their systems. One key factor that distinguishes a Trojan from viruses and worms is that Trojans don't replicate.
Malware: A generic term used to describe any type of software or code specifically designed to exploit a computer or the data it contains, without consent. Malware includes viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, most rootkits, and other malicious programs.
GIF: Abbreviation for “Graphic Interchange Format”- a bitmap image supporting both animated and still images