How To Protect Yourself From Computer Worms
Everything You Need to Know about Computer Worms + How to Protect Yourself
The World Wide Web is a big bad word with an uncountable number of viruses, trojans, worms doing their rounds. According to a report by Anti-Phishing Working Group, one-third of the computers in the world are infected with some type of malicious software. Computer worms have been one of the biggest threats emerging its head around the 1980s and used to compromise millions of computers across the planet.
You may not be an exception to the threats which even cyber specialists have acknowledged exist online. So how do you save yourself from those pesky worms? Let’s read on to find out!
What are Computer Worms?
Computer worms are a type of malware or malicious software that is programmed to infect computers and networks. The software spreads by making copies of it itself in different computers and spreads through various ways like emails and scam websites.
A worm is distinct from virus and other malware in two ways. First, it doesn’t need a host software or program to work and can exist as a standalone application. Second, worms are present in the active memory and don’t alter files like a virus.
Worms look for a vulnerability to enter a system which might exist in the operating system or other software. Worms can be programmed to execute a host of tasks ranging from stealing personal data to launching attacks on other systems. The malware can also overload systems by consuming system resources, give a backdoor entry to hackers and compromise your system or data for fraudulent purposes.
The most famous worm, Stuxnet, was used to sabotage an Iranian power plant which overloaded machines while sending an okay status to engineers. Various other computer worms have leveraged technology like encryption, ransomware and wipers to damage their targets.
How can You Protect Yourself from Computer Worms?
As simple as it may sound, you can protect yourself from most computer worms by using a good antivirus. Let’s see exactly how an antivirus achieves the goal!
- Email Scanner
Most worms spread through emails. Antiviruses have email scanners which scan all incoming emails for suspicious attachments. You can instantly get notifications if the antivirus detects any threats. That way you can prevent downloading attachments which look genuine but contains a hidden computer worm underneath.
- Web Shield
Another popular way cybercriminals use to infect computers with worms is through links to malicious websites. You can also unknowingly land up on a website which ends up infecting your system.
Almost all antivirus programs, even free versions, have web shields that proactively track your online activities. Whenever you are about to visit an unsafe link or put a blacklisted website in the address bar, the antivirus will warn you and block access to the website.
This way you can prevent your system from getting infected even unknowingly!
- Performance Monitoring
Most antiviruses have this as a premium feature but is worth the extra cost when it comes to tracking computer worms. Often you will find your computer a bit sluggish or the programs may crash for no known reasons. This could be a red flag pointing to the presence of worms or other malware in your computer eating up resources.
The performance-tracking feature will scan the computer performance in real-time, keeping an eye on essential metrics like RAM and space usage. You will get a warning whenever the resources spike beyond a level and can investigate further to check if you have a worm.
- Network Protection
Computer worms can spread through Wi-Fi or other networks which many people use. Current antiviruses often provide network protection and safeguard Wi-Fi and local area networks from vulnerabilities. You can always be sure of a safe network where cybercriminals have no entry.
- System Scan
Once your computer is compromised, the best way to find and remove the computer worm is by performing a system scan. You can run a deep scan which checks your system thoroughly including registry files, partitions and other file systems. Antiviruses schedule the scans at startup so that a more comprehensive check can be done.
If the antivirus detects any worms, you will get a notification and the file will be sent to quarantine to prevent further infection. You should make sure that your antivirus is always updated to detect even the latest computer worms and malware.
Apart from getting a reliable antivirus, you should also update your operating system and other software regularly. Also, make sure that you check the credibility of websites, links or attachments that come your way before accessing or downloading them.