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Computer Viruses

Computers are a part and parcel of everyone's life nowadays and are being used for several purposes to make this world a better place. Everyday software producers are introducing new products that are designed to facilitate the life of the general public. It is because of the ease and convenience provided to the user, that computers have become a household item and have made our lives easier. But just like every coin has two sides, there is a darker side to this glamorous world of technology as well, because many technological geniuses tend to use their skills for evil. This is how a computer virus came into existence. Today everyone who owns a computer knows about viruses and how they are a threat to their computer. A computer virus is basically a program that can copy itself and spread from one computer to another without the permission or knowledge of the user. This virus has the ability to corrupt or destroy an entire hard disk as it attaches itself to a file, application or a program. And when that affected program or application is opened, the virus becomes active.

The basic purpose of a computer virus is to inflict harm to a computer and it can achieve its purpose in several ways, like corrupting the data or destroying the software in the computer, and making life hell for a user. Nowadays some specially programmed viruses also have an ability to steal the banking information of the user. So the viruses have become a threat not only to the user's computer and his files, but also to his savings. A virus makes uses of its malevolently coded program and attaches itself to a computer but it doesn't just stop there. After affecting a system, it then spreads itself to any other computer it gets connection and access to. Some viruses have the ability to send emails to your contacts with viruses attached to them, and then from their computers send to their email contacts and therefore creating a full circle of mayhem in the process. Most of the viruses are small and can be easily fixed, but there are certain viruses that are extremely dangerous and are therefore an imminent threat to your valuable files. As many viruses come from emails one should always check that the email received is from someone that he knows, in order to be sure that it is does not contain a virus. The viruses can come in the form of pictures, video or even audio files. Some viruses and malwares present themselves as a download option on a website. Whereas some viruses can also be spread by surfing insecure websites or by installing pirated software and also by using infected flash drives. Antivirus programs are thus needed to protect a computer from the harm of these viruses and are worth the money, since they can provide a sigh of relief to users. These antivirus programs have the ability to detect and remove such viruses from a computer that have gained access without the awareness of the user. So owning an antivirus software has become a necessity nowadays. There are many signs that can indicate that a computer has been infected with a virus. The most common sign in this regard is the slowness of the computer. An infected computer is always slower than an uninfected one and it tends to lock up and stop responding every now and then. Sometimes it even restarts itself and crashes down frequently. Most of the applications installed in the computer stop responding and you will get a lot of errors. There are different types of viruses and each one of them can cause a different type of damage to a computer.

Types of Viruses

The Trojan horses tend to destroy the data, whereas the worms duplicate themselves and destroy or corrupt all the data on the computer as they spread. Such viruses can combine and result in an even more dangerous form, so it is important to identify their location on a computer. The boot sector viruses are the earliest forms of viruses and they required a removable device like a flash drive, USB, floppy disk, or a CD to reach the computer. As soon as the system is restarted and rebooted, this virus infects other removable media and has a potential to take up most of the memory of a computer and then freeze a system. File viruses are another type of computer viruses and as the name indicates, such viruses infect the files on a system. The file viruses are known as the classic form of viruses as they are the most common and the easiest to distribute. There are some forms of file viruses that have the ability to hide themselves by changing the aspects of their code after each infection.

The multipart virus is another type of virus that infects both the boot sector and the files. Such viruses used to be very common in the past, when most of the computers operated on a DOS system but with the introduction of integrated operating systems such viruses have become extinct. A virus called Melissa created by David L. Smith became famous as it had the ability to spread like fire through emails. This virus tempted the recipients to open these emails and once the email was opened, it spread in the computer like wild fire and sent itself to the top fifty people in the address book of the recipient. Another heavy hitter called the Philippines, has an ability to copy itself several times and even hide itself in different folders of the recipient’s computer. This virus can also add files to the registry keys and even replace several necessary system files with different copies of itself. In addition to this, Philippines virus can also download a file named as WIN-BUGFIX.EXE and run it on the computer. This file is a password stealing program and can acquire all the passwords, pin numbers and security keys from a computer. Another famous computer virus is known as Klez which when active can multiply itself to the victim's list of emails just like Melissa.

Code Red and Code Red II viruses are also worth mentioning when talking about the most popular viruses. These viruses took advantage of the weakness in the programming language of the windows and thus caused an overflow. These viruses had the ability to give more information to a computer than it can process and as a result the system buffered and would start overwriting the adjacent memory thus causing an overflow. Code Red first made its appearance when it attacked the web servers at the White House. The Code Red 2 was even more dangerous as the computers infected by it were no longer usable by their owners as it created a back door program in the computer’s system. Nimda is another popular virus which is basically spelled by writing admin backwards. It is considered very dangerous because it takes very little time to spread. A computer is infected through Nimda within 22 minutes, making it very dangerous. The main target of the Nimda virus are the internet servers, as it has an ability to travel through the internet using various methods and spread itself across thousands of servers in no time.

Who created the first virus and for what reason is still not known. An interview with a certain virus programmer revealed that he created a virus to destroy a particular online service that had failed to provide quality protection for the children. So he created and distributed a virus to all the file libraries of that service he could find, and as a result disabled the computers of the people using that service. The virus prevented the computers to be connected to the internet for days at a time and as a result the service lost a lot of revenue, as well as customers. That particular online service is still in business today, so the programmer was unable to achieve his goal. This goes to show that there maybe a well intentioned motive behind creating a virus at times, but it still does not justify the damage done to an innocent user.

Virus Removal

A computer is a very complex machine that functions by using different sets of rules, languages and codes. In order to operate efficiently the computers follow a certain pattern and a schedule. A virus can affect different cosmetics of a computer such as the display or functions like the functionality of a keyboard or mouse. Some viruses can even mess with the drivers of the hardware installed in a computer whereas some affect only the hard drives. When you see these signs, you should get the idea that there is a strong possibility that your computer has indeed been infected by a computer virus. After a person has ascertained that his computer has been infected by such viruses, the question arises as to how to get rid of them without compromising the important files present in the computer. There are different methods of achieving that purpose. First of all a person can try removing his hard drive from the computer and connecting it to another operating system that has an updated and advanced antivirus software. This way, the hard drive can be scanned and the virus can be removed. Another method is the usage of safe mode. For the most complicated problems, safe mode is used by many experts as the computer is booted to the safe mode, the virus can easily be removed because safe mode has the ability to block new viruses, while the current ones are removed. Re-installation of a hard disk is another method of getting rid of the viruses. This method is chosen when nothing else is working and the virus has spread over the entire hard drive and the antivirus program is unable to remove it. In this method, the entire hard disk is re installed and washed and as a result each and every virus program is completely removed from the hard drive. One can also use cleaners which work on different files to keep them in a good shape as they deal with viruses which affect a particular file. For the purpose of removing viruses that affect the registry, registry cleaners are used.

A virus can be removed from a computer manually as well as automatically. To remove the viruses automatically, the first thing a person needs to do is close all running programs. As most of the antivirus programs require the computer to reboot, one should save and shut down all the running programs and applications. Then run the antivirus program and remove the detected viruses. One should always remember to update the virus definition databases of his antivirus program. As new viruses are being created and spread everyday so, the antivirus program needs to be able to recognize these new viruses in order to be able to remove them. The antivirus programs have an ability to detect and remove viruses as well as other malicious threats to a computer. While it is easy to remove a virus and other malicious PC threats from an infected computer automatically through an antivirus program or a virus removal tool, one should also be aware of the methods of removing viruses from a system manually.

To remove the viruses from a computer manually, the first thing a person needs to do is to reboot the system and start the PC in safe mode. This can be achieved by pressing F8 while the PC reboots. Once the computer starts in safe mode, the first thing a person needs to do is remove any suspicious programs from the computer from the add/remove program feature in the control panel. This feature provides a list of all the programs installed on the computer. One should look for the programs associated with a virus and remove those programs. If a person does not have an idea as to which program is associated with a spyware he can get a list of programs corresponding to any particular virus easily over the internet. A list of files relating to a particular virus can also be found over the internet, so a person can also get rid of infected files by searching for such files on the computer and then deleting them permanently. Viruses tend to add registry entries to the system, so it is important to remove these redundant entries from the registry of the system and flush out the virus from the system once and for all. While removing the viruses manually, one should be careful not to delete any important system files or needed files in the process.

In operating systems like Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8 there is an in-built feature known as system restore. This tool can also help during an infection as it has the ability to restore a computer registry and system files to a previously saved checkpoint. But there are certain viruses like CiaDoor that can disable programs and features like system restore, command prompt and task manager. In such cases safe mode again comes in handy, as the system tools can work if you have opened the operating system in safe mode. The antivirus programs are the best solution for most viruses but there are some viruses that can't be terminated with the help of normal antivirus programs. In such cases the only way of tackling the situation is by the re installation of the operating system. This can be done in two ways, either by reformatting the entire hard drive and thus losing all the data or just by restoring the full partition after making the backup image clean. While using an antivirus program may seem easier, but rebooting is better as it ensures the complete removal of the viruses.

Conclusion

It is important for everyone to have a basic knowledge of viruses, their kinds, how to detect them and most importantly how to get rid of them. Whether it is businesses, travel or education, computers have become such a necessity nowadays that even the slightest of delays can cause the biggest of mayhem in our lives. Assignments, essays, research work all require the use of computers. So we need to know all about viruses in order to deal with them. But if a person is not able to get rid of these viruses on his own, it is better for him to consult a computer technician. Computer technicians are experts in their field and they can provide a solution to all the problems in no time.

References


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