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Computer Viruses and Cybercrime

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Franchesca Mendiola




1. Computer viruses are software programs that are made to spread from one computer to another that causes harm and interference with computer operation. Computer viruses are usually spread by attachments in emails, downloads or social networking sites. It disguises as attachments of video files, links, funny pictures, etc. One example of a virus is when it is sent by an email, which pretends to be a link somewhere or free items, once you click the link, your computer will then be affected by the virus. Therefore, one shouldn’t open links or email attachments right away unless one is sure whom they come from and if it is safe. Information systems can be affected with virus because it can cause destruction to the files of the system. An example of this is when a virus goes into the information systems, this can destroy all files and remove all data for no reason, which will cause harm to the company.  The users of the information may not be able recover the files which have been affected with virus and the data could be corrupted forever. The files in the information systems may also be modified out of consent. Computer viruses can really harm the computer so it is best to prevent having them.

2. Worms are similar to viruses in a way that they are computer programs that replicate functional copies of themselves which may cause harm or interfere with the normal use of a computer. Worms can replicate themselves to one system to another without using a host file, unlike viruses which need them. The difference between worms and viruses is that worms exist on its own and do not attach themselves to programs or files like emails. An example of what worms can do to computers is that it can cause harm to the network. The entire document, which has the worm, may travel the entire computer. By consuming bandwidth, worms can cause harm to the network, while viruses almost always corrupt or change files on a specific computer. In information systems, worms can delete important files or sending documents via email. This can harm the users because they don’t know that they are already sending harmful documents to other peoples.

3. Adware, in short for advertising-supported software, is a form of malicious software (malware). It is any software package that automatically presents unwanted advertisements to the user. It downloads and displays unwanted ads when a user is online. This is harmful for information systems for example because it can collect data and other information without the user’s knowledge. It collects marketing-type of data about the users like for example the websites a person visits so that customized adverts can be displayed and be used to create revenue. The ads are usually in the form of a pop-up or annoying windows that you cant seem to close. To prevent, you can block pop-up windows in your browsers or install Anti-Malware software programs in your computer.

4. Spyware is a malicious software that gathers information about a person or organization and sends this information to another entity, all without consent. It may also control over a device without the knowledge of the consumer, change the configuration of a computer and collect personal information without one’s knowledge. It is used for tracking and storing Internet users and serving pop-up ads. It is dangerous for information systems because for example, spyware spies on the users and gets a hold of the information systems in order to gain access to personal information of the users like banking details or what they do/search online then sending all the information to another firm without any knowledge. It is scary because most of the time, people are not aware when spyware is on a computer so it should always be prevented.

5. Ransomware is a type of malware that limits or even prevents users from accessing their own system. This is done by locking the user’s files or system’s screen unless a specific ransom is paid. It encrypts data and asks for money for it to be unlocked. This is harmful for information systems users because money is already involved. For example, since payment is needed in order for this malware to be unlocked, it will be a problem if a user does not have enough money to pay such fee because he/she won’t be able to have any access to his/her needed data.  

Companies can also be affected when dealt with ransomware so all confidential and sensitive important files should always be securely backed up in an independent storage facility. Another harmful thing here is that, there is no actual guarantee that paying the needed ransom or doing whatever the ransomware tells you will give access to the user’s computer or data files again. This is dangerous therefore should be prevented.

2. Security measures to prevent Cybercrime:

  1. One security measure to protect us from cybercrime through computer viruses and malwares, which can cause hacking, is by having Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software/tools. This gives awareness to the user when viruses are present. Always be sure to activate firewall settings and install anti-virus or anti-spyware software. This protects many different forms of viruses, Trojan horses and other malicious software used to access your personal information.
  2. Secure your data by constantly updating passwords and login details. By changing passwords at least once a month, the chances of being target of cybercrime becomes low. It will be harder for you to be hacked. Also, create stronger passwords which are hard to guess.
  3. Everything you post online will forever be there. Therefore, make sure to protect your privacy as much as you can. Set all your social media networking profiles to private and check security settings. Be careful what information you post online because this can be used for hacking. It will be easier to hack your data if a lot of information about you are posted online. Do not post confidential information like social security numbers, passwords, birth details etc. Also, protect your e-identity when giving information online. For example, when a website asks for your personal information, make sure that website is secured and safe before entering your details.
  4. Avoid being scammed. Emails are usually what hackers use to send viruses. Thus, always think before you click any link or file from an unknown origin. Check the source of origin always and verify the source.  If you do not know where the email comes from and if it seems rather sketchy, do not open any file given. Also, do not give your information or ID and password when asked through emails. Most likely it is a virus.
  5. Report suspicious activities. Once you notice that you are being hacked, report right away and find a solution to the problem in order to not worsen the situation. Do not try to fix it yourself if you can’t. If you notice any online fraud ongoing, you can report to the Federal Trade Commission.

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