Protect your PC from online viruses

Malware, viruses, Trojans and worms: the curse of the personal computer. We take a look how they can affect your PC and give tips on what you can do to make sure you’re protected...



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There was a time when worms were just something the early bird would catch and a virus was something that could be cleared up with a few days of bed rest and a couple of Lemsips.

But worms are now something that your computer can catch and your pc is just as likely to catch a virus as you are.

Which all sounds very worrying…and that’s before we even get onto Trojan Horses!

If you’re still none the wiser, worms, viruses and Trojan Horses are all types of Malware, that is, they are destructive computer programs designed to cause disruption in a single computer or even across an entire network.


A computer virus is a malicious computer program that can replicate and then attach itself to an existing program, usually in the form of an executable file, in order to spread from one computer to another.


A worm is similar to a virus in that sends destructive copies of itself to other computers but, unlike a virus, it does not need attach itself to an existing program.


A Trojan horse is a destructive program that infects computers by masquerading as a safe, and often desirable, program. They are usually used to distribute spyware or similar programs that can harm computer systems and even steal sensitive data such as passwords and credit card details.

So how can you spot these malicious programs and avoid becoming a victim?

Start by making sure you know exactly who it is you are dealing with online as it is easy for criminals to create official looking websites and emails that are a cover to spread malicious software.

You should also try to avoid sharing too much of your personal and financial data online and never disclose passwords or pin numbers, especially if prompted to do so in an email or pop up.

Always be wary of opening email attachments, particularly if sent from an unfamiliar address as these files may install malicious code on your machine that could wipe files or steal data.

More recently, internet criminals have been taking advantage of the rise in illegal music downloads to spread malware.

Three out of every four tracks downloaded during 2010 were downloaded illegally and this is a trend that internet criminals were quick to pick up on.

This means that anyone illegally downloading copyrighted material is leaving themselves wide open not only to criminal prosecution but also to having their computers infected and sensitive information stolen.

So if you see websites or pop ups that promise “free music downloads” or “free software downloads” then they’re probably best left alone.

If something looks a little too good to be true then it probably is!


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