Computer Viruses – Are You At Risk?

Computer security experts love ranting on about viruses and how much of a threat they are to you, your data and your identity. Anti-virus companies make an even bigger deal out of this – possibly in the hope that you’ll keep upgrading your antivirus software. Computer viruses have spawned their own little industry (well not quite little – it’s a business worth billions of dollars). The truth is that computer viruses aren’t going away anytime soon. Neither are the companies producing solutions to the virus problem.

Here’s the big question – Do computer viruses pose a threat to your computer data and personal information?

The answer is YES. Very much so and the threat is getting worse every single day in that new viruses appear every single day. Are all of these viruses deadly dangerous? Nope. There are those however that are and spread quickly and have their few days or weeks of fame by being featured on what’s known as a “wildlist”. Wildlists, by the way, are a record of the viruses that are actually out there spreading across networks and across countries – sometimes causing billions of dollars of damage.

So how much risk is there. Here’s how to check:

1. Are you using antivirus software?
If the answer is no then the risks you’re taking are massive. If the answer is Yes then your risk is greatly reduced.

2. Are you using firewall software?

If the answer is No then in you’re doubly damned because you have no protection on your computer at all. If the answer is Yes then you have a solid first line of defence against computer infections.
It still amazes me to hear friends talk about how they don’t need antivirus or firewall software. Their computer seems to be running fine and they never download from websites or share files so they can’t get infected. This is up there with the theory that a girl can’t get pregnant the first time she has sex – it’s absolute rubbish! If you’re not using protection then you’re going to get yourself into trouble. Plain and simple. These same friends then ring me 6 months later going “ummmm my computer doesn’t start up anymore and Windows doesn’t work…” DOH. Told ye so!

What’s possibly more shocking is that most of these friends are “IT” students and having to explain how to repair a bootsector on a drive is totally lost on them – the lack of education is a major problem here.

So where do viruses come from? The new would have you believe that “hackers” write computer viruses. This isn’t entirely true. Hackers are normally far busier trying to breach bank or military security systems to play around with viruses. Virus authors are normally of above average intelligence and are simply out to prove a point. Of course the current political climate globally could easily lead to cyber-terrorism where computer viruses are used as offensive weapons (this almost happened to British forces during the first Gulf War).

Do all computer viruses wipe your hard drive? Not at all. It depends on the type of virus. Some are designed purely to cause mischief on your system or will simply spread via your e-mail address book to everyone you know. They’re not always harmful. They are always a nuisance!

Can a computer virus steal my credit card information and other personal data? The short answer is Yes. Quite easily too!

How do you protect yourself against them? Well use some form of anti-virus software. Anything is better than nothing at all. True some anti-virus packages are better than others but even the free ones can offer some level of protection.

Hopefully this section of the site has given you something to think about. Computer viruses are dangerous and you need to protect your system against them. Believe me there’s nothing worse than waking up one day to find thousands of files missing. Angry ain’t the word.