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Viruses, Trojans and Worms, Oh My!

Viruses, trojans, and worms are grouped together simply because they are all protected against with the same piece of software, the anti-virus.  For the purpose of simplicity, all of these threats will be referred to as viruses in this document.

Almost everyone is aware of the threat of computer viruses, but few realize how dangerous the threat can really be. 

On average there are 25 new viruses release every day.  That is a little more than one an hour. 

Some viruses are very little threat, and the damage is all up to the author of the virus and not the victim.  To date we have seen only viruses that do relatively little harm, but still have wrecked havoc on the Internet by simply spreading aggressively.  

Most viruses tend to do more than spread.  They have ulterior motives.  They usually, at the minimum, will open back doors to allow unlimited access to the machines they infect. 

We have not yet seen viruses which spread aggressively and are highly destructive at the same time.  Most in the computer security world believe it is only a matter of time before this happens.  This is the number one reason to be as aggressive as possible to not be a victim when it does happen. 

Antivirus (AV) applications are only one of the essential pieces to protect against these threats.  No matter which AV application you use, frequent updating is essential to reasonable protection.  Given the release rate of viruses, no less than every 6 hours between updates should be trusted.   Hourly is not over checking.  If you use a dial-up make sure that updating your AV is the first thing you do online every time. 

Making a good choice of an AV program is not as easy as picking a popular one from the retail shelf.  These popular AV programs are popular only because of marketing force, not by being any better than others.  These popular AV programs are also the most often attacked by viruses, rendering them useless.  This tactic is very common among viruses as a defense for themselves.  Viruses can spread 1000?s of times faster than AV venders can issue new detection signatures.  If you get a new virus you will definitely want a program that can still get updates and remove the virus.    

There are actually very good AV programs available for free for home computers.  Two of them are:

Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic:

Avast 4 Home: