A virus or spyware can be an annoyance. Your antivirus software will detect it early and eliminate it if you have sufficient digital protocols. If not, then it can expose you to a huge loss and inconvenience.
US households spend $4.5 billion annually on virus and spyware removal. US businesses spend $8 billion on virus protection and $55 billion each year dealing with their consequences. The costs of getting rid of a virus can involve.
- Lost productivity
- New hardware to replace the infected
- Hiring professionals for virus removal or cleanup
It goes without saying that viruses have the ability to cause massive losses. As proof, here are some of the most devastating viruses of all time.
In the 2000s, the ILOVEYOU virus infected government servers and caused $15 billion in damages. The ILOVEYOU virus was the brainchild of Filipino programmers Reonel Ramones and Onel de Guzman. The virus spread itself through email.
An infected email looked like it was from a love interest. Once a user clicked on it, the virus would send itself to the user’s email list and overwrite files. The virus would eventually make the computer unbootable.
The virus was a huge concern for big corporations and governments because it also could copy passwords and send them back to the programmers. The virus spread to over 10 million computers worldwide in just 30 days. It caused enough damage to force the CIA, Pentagon, and large corporations to shut down their email systems.
The Mydoom worm slowed down the internet by 10 percent in 2004. The damage it caused was approximately $38 billion. The Mcafee employee, Craig Schmugar, discovered Mydoom. He noticed the text “mydom” in its code. MyDoom would become one of the world’s most damaging and fastest viruses to spread worldwide.
The worm appeared as an email transmission error with an attachment. Once a user clicks on the attachment, it will send itself to all the email addresses on the user’s address book. It reached approximately 2 million computers.
David L. Smith created the Melissa virus in 1999. Initially, he masked the virus inside a Word document that purported to have passwords to pornographic websites – such lists were popular at the time. At the time, people were very trusting of links.
Once a user clicked on the link, it immediately sent itself to 50 contacts in the user’s address book. The success of the virus had an impact on global internet traffic. The virus found itself in government and corporate email services. The virus caused $80 million worth of damage. Smith got away with a $5 000 fine and 20 months in prison after helping the FBI catch other virus creators.
Klez was a mass mailer written in Microsoft Visual C++. It would send itself to random addresses on a user’s Outlook address book. It used a high stealth technique that many standard antivirus software couldn’t detect. The Klez virus would arrive in emails with different subject lines, so it wasn’t easy to spot. Without a familiar title or message pattern, it could successfully spread itself.
- Code Red
Code Red is a worm that was discovered in 2001. It got its name because the people who found it were drinking Mountain Dew Code Red. The worm used a vulnerability in Windows NT and 2000 to send a string of random data and cause a buffer overflow. The computer would then overwrite memory with new instructions from the worm.
Some infected computers would crash, while others attacked the White House’s website. The worm would try to make 100 copies of itself and change local servers to “Hacked by the Chinese.” The worm spread to more than 1 million computers and caused $2.6 billion in damages.
Computer Virus Protection Methods You Can Take
Any digital device is vulnerable to a virus attack. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your device and data.
- Install antivirus software on your home and work devices. Even if your devices don’t connect to the internet, there are several ways they can still get infected, for example, through an external device.
- Keep your operating software and programs updated. The update notifications may feel like a nuisance, especially when you think of the time it takes to download and install the updates. The updates are important because they come with security patches to keep your device safe from the latest threats and plug any security holes.
- Always keep a backup of your data. Sometimes, your data may not be retrievable after an attack despite best efforts. In those circumstances, your backups can be a lifesaver.
- Avoid opening email attachments from unknown sources.
- Avoid websites that offer downloads, free software, plugins, or media.
Seek an IT expert when antivirus programs don’t seem to work. They have the skills and expertise to diagnose and answer questions such as why is my computer so slow on startup.
Protect Your Computer
The internet has grown over the years, and so has the number and types of viruses. Fortunately, the IT industry is more adept at identifying and dealing with threats, so they are less likely to be as devastating as in the past.
Your part in this is to adopt good computer habits like installing antivirus software, keeping your software updated, creating backups, and avoiding suspicious links.