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What is SPYWARE ?

When you visit Web sites or open email messages, tracking programs can be installed on your computer without your knowledge. Spyware infects an estimated 90% of all Internet-connected computers. Most spyware is designed to track your Web browsing and online purchasing habits, but some programs can leave you vulnerable to identity theft, data corruption, or personal profiling.

Adware is advertising-supported software that displays pop-up advertisements whenever the program is running. Often the software is available online for free, and the advertisements create revenue for the company. Although it's seemingly harmless (aside from the intrusiveness and annoyance of pop-up ads), adware can install components onto your computer that track personal information (including your age, sex, location, buying preferences, or surfing habits) for marketing purposes.

Most advertising-supported software doesn't inform you when it installs adware on your system. Adware does require initial consent from you, but in many cases the software will not function without the adware component. Some adware can infiltrate your computer even though you decline the installation.

Adware Cookies
Cookies are pieces of software that Web sites store on your hard drive when you visit a site. Some cookies exist just to save you time-for example, when you check a box for a Web site to remember your password on your computer. But some sites now deposit adware cookies, which store personal information (like your surfing habits, usernames and passwords, and areas of interest) and share the information with other Web sites. This sharing of information allows marketing firms to create a user profile based on your personal information and sell it to other firms.

Adware cookies are installed and accessed without your knowledge or consent.

System Monitors
These programs monitor your computer activity. System monitors can capture virtually everything you do on your computer, from keystrokes, emails, and chat room dialogue, to which sites you visit and which programs you run. System monitors usually run in the background so that you don't know you're being watched. The information gathered by the system monitor is stored on your computer in an encrypted log file for later retrieval. Some programs can even email the log files to another location.

There has been a recent wave of system monitoring tools disguised as email attachments or free software products.

Trojan Horses
Trojan horses are malicious programs that appear as harmless or desirable applications. Trojan horses are designed to steal or encode computer data, and to destroy your system. Some Trojan horses, called RATs (Remote Administration Tools), give attackers unrestricted access to your computer whenever you are online. The attacker can perform activities such as file transfers, adding or deleting files and programs, and controlling your mouse and keyboard.

Trojan horses are distributed as email attachments, or they can be bundled with other software programs.

How to protect yourself from spyware

1) Install spyware protective softwares.

2) Contact you ISP for information of suggested protective softwares

3) Avoid known spyware websites

4) Don't use cookies

5) Disconnect from the Internet when not in use.

6) Use your spyware scanner effectively - keep your scanner updated and run a manual scan at least monthly



 What is a virus? 

A computer virus is a malicious program that explicitly copies itself and typically spreads itself from computer to computer without the user’s knowledge or permission. Viruses, by definition, add their code to your computer in such a way that when the infected part of the system executes, the virus does also.

 There are various types of viruses:

 Boot viruses infect the portion of a hard drive that is accessed every time the computer boots up.  Thus, when an infected computer boots, the virus loads  and runs.  After boot viruses are finished loading, the computer usually appears to boot normally, not immediately prompting the user of an infection..

File viruses attach to ‘program files’ in  such a way that when the infected program is run, the virus code executes.  Usually the virus code is added in such a way that it executes first, although this is not strictly necessary. After the virus code has finished loading and executing, it will normally load and execute the original program it has infected so as to not arouse the user’s suspicion.

Macro viruses are really just a type of file virus, but a particularly ‘successful’ type.  They copy their macros to templates and/or other application document files.  For example, a user can choose the ‘File Save’ command and the macro virus will take over and run a different command.

Script viruses also became quite successful around the beginning of this century. This was mainly due to the increase in machines running Windows Scripting Host, which was first installed by default in Windows 98 and 2000 and with Internet Explorer 5.0 and later versions. Representing new types of ‘program file’, but with icons more like that of ‘safe’ text files, standalone Visual Basic Script (VBS) and JavaScript (JS) programs became a popular target of the writers of mass mailing viruses.

Companion viruses take advantage of features of the operating system to be executed, rather than directly infecting programs or boot sectors. Under DOS and Windows, when you execute the command ‘ABC’, the rule is that ABC.COM executes before ABC.EXE (in the rare cases where both files exist). Thus, a companion virus could place its code in a COM file with its first name matching that of an existing EXE file. When the user next executed the ‘ABC’ command, the virus’ ABC.COM program would be run (usually the virus would launch     ABC.EXE once its code was finished so as not to arouse suspicion). This is known as the ‘execution preference companion’ method, but several other forms of companion infection are also possible.

Worms are similar to viruses in that they make copies of themselves, but different in that they need not attach to particular files or sectors.  When a worm is executed, it seeks other computers to infect, then copies its code to them in such a way as to have the code execute directly from memory.  Recently the term ‘worm’ has been taken to mean ‘a virus that replicates across a network link’, most commonly the Internet, in the form of email attachments.

What viruses do:

Some viruses cause damage to files, others interfere with the regular activity of the computer, while others are non-damaging but annoying and cause simple inconvenience to the computer user.  There are virus pranks and hoaxes that fool the computer user into damaging his/her own computer.  There are no ‘good’ viruses.  Users must be able to control their computers, and that requires no software is installed, modified, or removed without their knowledge and permission. A virus maliciously modifies the computer and files without user awareness, and removal can be difficult and costly.

Even if a virus causes no direct damage to your computer, your inexperience with viruses can mean that damage occurs during the removal process. Many organizations have shredded floppies, deleted files, and done low-level formats of hard disks in their efforts to remove viruses. Even when removal is done perfectly, with no damage to the infected system or files, it is not normally done when the machine is first infected, and the virus in that machine has had a few weeks to spread.  The social costs of infection include a loss of reputation and good will. This last point is increasingly significant recently with the rapid increase in network-aware and data stealing viruses.

How viruses spread

Viruses do not travel through the air we breathe.  They do, however, spread through the medium that computers breathe, ie. Internet connections, local area  networks, modem connections, floppy disks, CDs, and backup tapes, etc.  Whenever any information is passed from one computer to another, the risk of viruses is eminent.  Today most viruses spread by way of email attachments or across a network connection.  ~ EMAIL ~ If you receive an email that contains an attachment file, think twice before executing the attachment file.  Instead copy the file to your local drive and virus scan it.  If it scans clean, then you can open it.  If the attachment file expands into many files, scan them, too prior to executing any of them.  Recognize that many email programs automatically open attachments before you get the chance to scan them first.  This may mean that your email program needs to have a parameter changed.  If this happens, your current virus scanner program should automatically scan it immediately.  If it doesn't, this may mean your virus scanner program may need to have a parameter changed.  If you stay informed of latest virus threats, you may spot an infected email before you even read it because of the message attached to it.  ~ NETWORKS ~  Many viruses are actually looking for more computers to infect; therefore, if you are connected to other computers across a network, you have vulnerability.  If any other computer on your network gets infected, it's very likely that you will, too.  Just the same, be informed, and be protected with a virus scanner program.  ~ SHARING DISKS ~ Viruses can copy themselves to floppy disks, or zip disks or writable CDs.  If you are unaware that a file on your computer is infected, then you copy that file to your floppy disk.  That virus in on that floppy disk.  Make a habit of scanning each shared disk prior to opening any files from it.

How to protect yourself from viruses

Isolating yourself in a germ free room may prevent you from catching a cold, but that doesn't do much for your social life.  Just the same, communicating with others by way of computers is today's lifestyle (networks, Internet, e-mail, shared disks, etc).  Therefore, we must take simple necessary precautions:

1) Obtain, utilize and know how to use a reputable virus scanner program:  Know how to use it so you don't have to learn when it's too late.  If a virus scanner program prompts you that you have a virus, know how to take action:  clean, remove, delete, or ignore....

2) Keep your virus scanner program current daily:  New viruses are popping up frequently.  Even the most reputable virus scanner program may not know how to detect new viruses unless they have been updated. 

3) Stay informed of latest threats:  You may gain information to help protect you.  Also you may be able to spot a virus before it infects you.

4) Be aware of the ways viruses approach you:  Email, networks, shared disks, etc.

5) Recognize potential viruses:  A network computer or friend's computer that has been infected, any portable medium like floppy disks, CDs, etc (even new ones).

6) Avoid contact with known infected computers and their medium:  Try a different means of communication until that computer has been completely restored and scans free of viruses.

7) Completely scan your computer at least weekly:  It can't hurt.  Even though your current virus scanner program is updated and constantly running in the background, there is still a small chance that a virus infected (dormant) file has slipped in through the cracks.

What happens if your computer gets infected?

  If your computer gets infected with a virus, or if you are suspicious, you may notice any strange activity.  The first thing to is remove any portable medium from your computer (floppy disks, CDs, zip disks, tapes, etc.), and run your virus scanner program to completely scan all your drives. If the scan reports no viruses, confirm you are using the latest update then scan again.  Scan also any disks you've removed.  If your virus scanner reports a virus, choose to clean it.  If it will not clean, quarantine or deletion may be necessary.  Reboot the computer after the virus has been cleaned or removed.  After rebooting, do another full scan.  Typically, this is all that is necessary to resume normal opeation.  However, if you still have viruses that will not be cleaned by your scanner or that keep reappearing, you may need to visit the Virus Information Center about that virus to learn other measures to clean your computer.  Worst case is that your computer will need to be reformatted and some files may be lost.


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