Antivirus Software and Types of Computer Viruses

When I say the words “computer virus”, what comes into your mind? Some hacker playing pranks online in his mom’s basement? A way for people to get personal information? Something that destroys your hard drive? While the main comment about computer hackers and virus-makers always seems to be, “don’t these people have lives?”, if you’ve ever been hit by a computer virus you know that it’s no joke.

Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are lost due to stolen information, computer downtime, identity theft and the like. However, the worst thing you can do is let hackers take away the benefits of the internet from you. With a few simple steps, you can educate yourself about computer viruses and what you can do to prevent them. Then they’ll have the virus, but you’ll have the antivirus.

There a few different types of software commonly referred to as viruses that are actually not. A virus, the type of software that is targeted by an antivirus program, generally is vandalistic in nature. This type of software buries itself in your computer and generally makes a nuisance of itself. Erasing programs, corrupting hard drives, sending emails you didn’t intend to send and causing general mayhem are all hallmarks of computer viruses. When you think of viruses, think of vandalism.

Unfortunately, a great many hackers soon figured out that they could put their skills to use in ways other than just destruction and spyware was born. Spyware (along with its cousin, the Trojan horse), enters your computer, not to cause damage, but to record your personal information and web browsing habits. Some forms of spyware are relatively benign; they send information about the types of web sites you visit to a third party. This is like having your name sold to a telemarketing company without your permission. However, many forms of spyware are not so gentle – these programs will record your credit card numbers, telephone and private email numbers, along with all your usernames and passwords. The first type of spyware is used for marketing; the second kind is used for outright theft.

To be truly secure over the internet, you need to be protected against both viruses and spyware. The following pages will help you find out how to do just that.

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