Health Care for Computers: Protect Your Computer and Your Business from Viruses

By Nunoo, Mildred | Black Enterprise, July 1996 | Go to article overview

Health Care for Computers: Protect Your Computer and Your Business from Viruses


Nunoo, Mildred, Black Enterprise


Computer viruses are commonplace. According to a recent survey by the National Computer Security Association (NCSA), over 200 new viruses are created every month and close to 7,000 computer viruses have been identified worldwide (over 95% of them have been eradicated).

A computer virus functions like a biological virus, affecting a computer's underlying operating code, with results ranging from minor ailments to complete hard drive disasters. It's actually a program that duplicates itself, attaches to other programs and performs unwanted and corrupted actions within your computer.

For local area networks (LANs), viruses present an even problem. They can infect an entire network of PCs, placing valuable information and files at risk. Viruses are written primarily by mischievous programmers intent on wreaking havoc in your computer term. There are two types: the boot virus - the most common type - which prevents the user from booting up their system, and the file virus, which becomes active only when you execute a program.

AntiEXE, a common boot virus, mainly targets your system's memory and hard disk. When a computer is infected with AnitExe, the virus resides in the memory and is activated when the computer is turned on there by preventing your computer from booting up.

AntiEXE can infect diskettes when they are inserted into your computer. If you attempt to view or access the hard disk master boot sector that controls system start-up, the virus will recognize this and display pre-infected information to prevent you from discovering it. The virus can also block attempts to remove it from your computer's memory. if you try to block the virus while accessing a disk, it will overwrite parts of that disk, destroying valuable information.

"A virus may watch for a trigger event, a computer condition which causes the payload to be delivered," explains Scott Gordon, product manager with McAfee Associates, a leading virus management software company. "If a virus were to immediately harm its host, the virus would not be able to spread. Most users who uncover that they have actually been infected, have been for quite some time."

According to the NCSA, this problem will continue to as programmers become more sophisticated and creative when writing viruses. In the past year alone, the NCSA reports that an estimated 10 virus encounters per 1,000 PCs every month, and over 70% of infections occurred through diskette distribution. …

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