University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Myths and Misconceptions about Viruses and Security
Computer viruses, as they are commonly known today, are malicious malware design to destroy and distort the normal working of a computer. The first known origin of computer viruses is estimated to be in the 1960’s CITATION Nat14 l 1033 (Devotta, 2014). The virus was in form of a game called Core Wars, and would self-replicate every time it was run. The group of programmers who developed it also made the first known anti-virus called Reeper. It was not until 1983, that one of these programmers announced the existence of Core Wars CITATION Ant l 1033 (AntivirusWorld, n.d.). In the same era, an influx of personal computers flooded the market and games became very popular. As a result, malicious viruses like Trojan horse were developed and innocent consumers downloaded them thinking that they were nice games only to feel the repercussions later. Since then, many viruses have been developed and continue to cause havoc to our computer experience.
A computer virus is a malicious code that is written with instructions to replicate itself in a host computer and attaches itself to files and programs in the machine CITATION All l 1033 (AllAboutCookies, n.d.). Often, this happens without the consent of the user, and once the machine is booted or the infected program is launched, the virus attacks and damages data. In the case where an infected file is saved on a storage device, transfer of that file to another computer repeats the cycle and the virus re-infects the new host computer CITATION Sym10 l 1033 (Symantec, 2010). Viruses are designed to be spread via several media, where they piggyback on emails, programs, or network systems.
The same way myths and misconceptions arise after a deadly disease pandemic, the computer world is full of myths about viruses. Some of the most common unfounded myths include; Mac users are virus proof, firewalls block off viruses, formatting and re-installing the operating system of an infected computer and then backing up one’s data gets rid of viruses, using antivirus programs protects one fully from viruses, signs of error messages popping up on one’s computer indicate that the computer is infected, corrupted files and blue screen displays on computers indicate a virus attack CITATION Rak11 l 1033 (Tembhurne, 2011). While some of these misconception hold water, they are not absolutely true all the time.
A common scenario for internet users is the appearance of irritating pop-up messages, especially when browsing. While some of these messages are strategies for internet marketing by companies, and are indeed inevitable, it is possible for one to block pop-up messages- without purchasing software. First and foremost, there are free downloadable pop-up blockers that are effective on general browser pop-up ads. Examples include, Google Toolbar, Yahoo Companion Toolbar, Pop-up Stopper, PopUp Blocker, WorldIQ Toolbar and CleanMyPC, just to name but a few CITATION Kio15 l 1033 (Kioskea, 2015). Peer-to-peer file sharing programs are another source of disturbing pop-ups, especially once you install a program downloaded from these sites. To get rid of search, uninstall any unfamiliar programs from the Control Panel. Most browsers today also come with in-built software that block pop-ups, and can be adjusted to block the ads under the Settings tab. A good example is Internet Explorer CITATION Uni04 l 1033 (Iowa, 2004). Using Windows XP Service Pack 2 is also another viable option since the latest version includes a built-in Pop-up blocker CITATION Ram07 l 1033 (Srinivasan, 2007).
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