Looking for Regional Information?

All about computer worms

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Internet

Beware of worms in your computer. When I say worms, in case you are a complete newbie in the field, you should know that they are not real worms. Worms are, in fact, a kind of program which enter your pc. You will never know, but in your computer will reside a program foreign to your needs. And in probability it, or more likely they will steal your delicate information for somebody with doubtful motives.

Does that sound like a thriller in the making? Well, it should, but also, it is the truth. Last year, bank frauds cost decent people around the world billions of dollars. And most of the money that got siphoned was lost due to faulty security. Your computer might be the next target.

Unaware, you might invite that Trojan Horse which will ruin your finances for good for the rest of your life. Therefore, be careful. Do not let worms into your computer as you would never let worms in your food.

But you must know about worms first. What are they actually? Are they viruses? Or are they like spyware?

In a way they resemble viruses, but in another way they are even deadlier than a virus. For, what a virus does is, it lodges itself into a program. It becomes dependent on that specific program. It, of course, has the capabilities of ruining your database, but it still needs a medium to propagate itself. A worm, however, is a different cup of tea altogether. A worm propagates without the need of a medium. And that is why it is, often, more dangerous than a virus. Because it is a virus without a few weaknesses of the computer virus.

What happens in this case is, while a virus must spread itself through other programs, mails and such, a worm can independently replicate itself throughout a system. This makes a network very unstable. The threat is that, once you have a system of computers connected to each other, one of the computers getting a worm through the internet would potentially threaten all the computers in the system.

The name worm comes from a 1975 science fiction by John Brunner called The Shockwave Rider. There was a striking similarity found between what Brunner described and the worm as it is to be found now.

The first worm in the world was created by a team of computer engineers at Xerox PARC as early as 1978. The intention then was, however, beneficial. It was a program, which was designed to search through a network, find idle machines, and divide the workload equally to them. This was of course, for the benefit of the network.  However, this scenario changed when in 1988 Robert Tappan Morris, a graduate student at Cornell University devised a similar program,, yet with a different agenda. Morris received three years of probation, 400 hours of community service and a hefty fine.

It is always judicious to use a firewall and a secure operating system and a secure browser when you have to surf the net extensively. Because, once a worm gets in, it is very hard to cleanse your system.