a computer program, usually hidden within another seemingly innocuous program, that produces copies of itself and inserts them into other programs and that usually performs a malicious action (as destroying data).

Click on one of the following topics to go to that area of this page.

  • General info about Computer Viruses
  • Virus Hoaxes
  • How do your protect yourself?
  • Recent "Activity"
  • Some links to help you out
  • There is a lot of stuff here (and a lot of it is technical), please forward any comments, suggestions, additions, and errors to: HELP!.

    General Info About Computer Viruses

    Computer viruses are created for various reasons; some people are just curious, some devious, and some downright malicious.  As a general rule, a virus is created to either inflict damage on a target location/computer or to solicit attention.

    A virus is usually designed to replicate and distribute itself.  In the process it may cause damage to your computer, but not always.  Most frequently, a virus is distributed via e-mail (usually as an attachment).  When you receive this e-mail and execute the attachment (either intentionally or not), the virus code will operate and perform it's function...usually without your knowledge.

    Some computer viruses are transported via programs that are available on the internet as 'downloads'.  These downloaded programs are copied from the internet site and then reside on your hard drive.  Once the downloaded program is executed, the virus code operates and performs it's function.

    Here's an article that was sent to us, discussing why a virus or worm is created:

    Virus Awareness Month: Who Writes This Stuff?

    After hearing about a virus, you might be wondering who writes viruses and why do they do it? This is not a simple question, and has actually been the subject of many studies all around the globe. (Click the link below to find an article written on that very subject.) People who write viruses appear to come from all walks of life. The most common excuse hackers give for writing destructive viruses is the following: ".to expose the frailty of the system." Perhaps, but this bothersome as well as pathetic excuse to engage in sociopathic behavior exonerates the writer only in his/her own mind and distances him/her from the damage s/he causes.

    Simply put: There is absolutely no legitimate reason to write intentionally destructive programs other than to inflict damage to other people. Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other destructive programs are not a form of expression, a show of talent, or a hobby; writing any or all is a degenerative act propagated by misguided need for respect that only seems legitimate to the author.

    I dare any of these virus writers to face the thousands of persons who have had emails, pictures, notes, books, ideas, and dreams destroyed and explain that they were simply trying to "expose the frailty of the system."

    Want to learn more? Click here for a detailed article on virus writers.

    Virus Hoaxes

    There are many 'phoney' virus warnings or hoaxes on the internet.  It seems like every day a new e-mail is distributed that warns of impending disaster to your computer if a certain e-mail is read or an attachment is executed.
    Although this is sound advice, it generally causes more harm than good.  Many people are unaware of the potential of receiving 'phoney' virus information and continue to forward the message along to others. This causes an increase in internet mail traffic and sometimes may overload mail servers if sufficient copies of the e-mail are distributed.

    You can go to a number of internet sites in order to determine if you are dealing with a hoax, here a a few:

    Symantec Hoaxes List
    Symantec Joke List
    McAfee Virus Hoaxes
    F-Secure Hoaxes
    Truth about Computer Virus Myths & Hoaxes

    How Do You Protect Yourself?

    Most virus programs can be easily detected and removed before any damage occurs to your computer system.  The best defense against virus infection and damage is to obtain a Virus Protection program.  Here are a number of sites that have trial/free versions of Virus Protection for your computer:

    Symantec Virus Software
    McAfee Virus Scan Software
    F-Secure Anti-Virus Software
    ThunderBYTE Anit-Virus Software

    Just obtaining a Virus Protection Program is not sufficient, you need to be sure to KEEP IT UPDATED.  It is recommended to CHECK FOR UPDATES WEEKLY.  This way you can be assured to have the latest Virus Protection capability for new viruses that are being created.  Each virus scan program has it's own way to do this, generally there is an 'Update' option in the main program that uses the internet to contact the home author web-site and retrieve the latest virus definition file (sometimes called a .DAT or 'signature' file).   This file is then automatically installed on your computer so you can check for newer virus versions.  Be sure to check the "Help" screens for your particular virus protection program for the actual procedure.

    Be advised, though, some newer e-mail virus' are becoming more deadly.  They are taking credit for the fact that many e-mail programs have a default 'preview' window, which opens the e-mail automatically when the title is highlighted in the list of available e-mail messages.  This can launch an e-mail virus, before you have time to stop it.  The best advice in this case is to turn off any 'preview' windows (generally by going into your e-mail program and clicking on "View" and then clicking on "Layout").

    Some Virus Detection and Prevention Tips
    Thanks to the McAfee Virus Tips Page

  • Do not open any files attached to an email from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source.
  • Do not open any files attached to an email unless you know what it is, even if it appears to come from a dear friend or someone you know. Some viruses can replicate themselves and spread through email. Better be safe than sorry and confirm that they really sent it.
  • Do not open any files attached to an email if the subject line is questionable or unexpected. If the need to do so is there always save the file to your hard drive before doing so.
  • Delete chain emails and junk email. Do not forward or reply to any to them. These types of email are considered spam, which is unsolicited, intrusive mail that clogs up the network.
  • Do not download any files from strangers.
  • Exercise caution when downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is a legitimate and reputable one. Verify that an anti-virus program checks the files on the download site. If you're uncertain, don't download the file at all or download the file to a floppy and test it with your own anti-virus software.
  • Update your anti-virus software regularly. Over 500 viruses are discovered each month, so you'll want to be protected. These updates should be at the least the products virus signature files. You may also need to update the product's scanning engine as well.
  • Back up your files on a regular basis. If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with your back-up copy. You should store your backup copy in a separate location from your work files, one that is preferably not on your computer.

  • Recent 'Activity' of Note

    This section may or may not have information located here, depends on the type of virus 'activity' going on. A lot of the information if obtained from on-line sources, but repeated here since it's of noteworthy importance:

    W95.Klez Virus/Worm
    This little guy is a pretty nasty one. It's been raising havoc not only on the internet, but on personal comptuers due to it's nasty features. There's actually a number of 'variants' of this virus/worm, they are all very simlar.

    One of the worst features is that it replicates itself by sending off e-mail when you are on-line, usually without you being aware of this. This is very similar to other virus activity, however in this case it will often use one of the e-mail addresses in your address book as the 'From:' effect hiding the origin of the e-mail, making it look like it came from that person instead of you! This causes the 'other' person to look as if they are the one spreading the virus.

    Another nasty feature of this virus/worm is that it tries to prevent you from loading, installing, or updating your virus protection software. I have personally seen a computer where the installation of Norton Anti-Virus was halted because the computer was infected by this virus/worm and it deleted executable files during the setup! Very clever! You can get help from the virus software sites (a tool to remove the virus so you can install your virus protection software).

    Here's an article that goes into more detail on this virus/worm:

    Click HERE

    Links to help you out

    Find out details concerning a type of virus at:

    Symantec Security Updates
    McAfee Virus Information Library

    Other Sites:

    Doug Muth's Anti-Virus Help Page
    Rob Slade's Antiviral Review FAQ
    Anti-Virus.Com Information
    Tim O'Leary Anti Virus Resource Site
    CERT Advisory Update on Home Virus Problems (excellent info)
    Info on the 'sircam' worm
    Info about a new 'worm' that claims to be an anti-virus solution
    Computer Myths and Hoaxes
    Utility that searches for and cleans Nimda.A Worm

    If you suspect illegal activity -
    There is a group called the FBI "SAFETeam", a group specifically designed to look into internet related crimes: (attn: SAFETeam)
    310-477-6565 ext. 4120

    Page Updated By Jim Tinlin on