Are Computer Viruses Spread By The Media

Are Computer Viruses Spread By The Media



Are computer viruses spread by the​ media?
If you believe what you hear in​ the​ media,​ there are an​ awful lot of​ viruses going around .​
No,​ I'm not talking about the​ make-you-sick kind of​ virus,​ though they get plenty of​ airtime,​ too .​
I'm talking about the​ kind of​ virus that enters via your internet connection rather than your nasal passages .​
What the​ mainstream media often don't tell you--at least,​ in​ most radio and television newscasts and in​ the​ crucial headlines and opening paragraphs of​ newspaper articles-- is​ that many of​ these viruses are not viruses at​ all .​
What Computer Viruses Really Are
The main reason the​ mainstream media always are in​ alarm over viruses is​ that they tend to​ call any malicious computer program a​ virus .​
In reality,​ there are at​ least eleven distinct types of​ malicious software,​ or​ malware,​ commonly affecting computers today .​
The most common of​ these are worms,​ Trojans,​ and spyware .​
So,​ what's the​ difference between computer viruses and the​ other types of​ malware? the​ difference is​ that computer viruses are just about the​ only ones that regularly shut down computers and cause other obvious damage .​
The most common of​ the​ other kinds of​ malware--worms,​ Trojans,​ and spyware--are usually only detectable with a​ special scan .​
The Real Danger of​ Computer Viruses
If the​ other types of​ malware are so unobtrusive that they can only be detected with a​ special scan,​ then what's to​ worry about? For starters,​ these programs are called malicious for a​ reason: they are designed to​ cause some kind of​ damage,​ if​ not to​ your computer,​ then to​ someone else's .​
Worms are most famously used to​ damage,​ destroy,​ or​ disrupt other computer networks than the​ one on​ which the​ host computer is​ located .​
For instance,​ worms have been used by website owners to​ shut down rival websites by sending overwhelming numbers of​ requests to​ the​ computer that hosts that website .​
Worms have also been used to​ send out viruses to​ other computers,​ often without infecting the​ host machine--after all,​ what would it​ benefit the​ worm to​ shut down its host computer?
Trojans,​ in​ turn,​ are often used to​ insert worms and other malware on​ your computer,​ even if​ the​ Trojan itself does no damage .​
But even if​ you don't care what happens to​ anyone else,​ you should still be concerned about one kind of​ malware: spyware,​ a​ kind of​ malware that,​ true to​ its name,​ collects data from your computer and sends it​ back to​ a​ remote host .​
Most spyware is​ only interested in​ monitoring your internet usage so it​ can tell other programs,​ called adware,​ what advertising to​ popup on​ your computer .​
However,​ there are criminal spyware programs that steal financial data,​ or​ perform a​ thorough identity theft .​
Don't think you have personal or​ financial data on​ your computer? Some spyware programs contain a​ keylogger,​ which is​ a​ program that copies whatever you type,​ usually in​ order to​ snatch passwords .​
Even if​ you keep no financial information on​ your computer,​ if​ you ever buy anything over the​ web,​ the​ keylogger would allow its owner to​ buy stuff using the​ same information you typed in​ to​ buy stuff yourself .​
Why Blame the​ Media?
Given the​ danger of​ all these different types of​ malware,​ isn't it​ a​ good thing that the​ mass media are becoming hysterical about it? And can't they be forgiven the​ sloppy reporting of​ calling Trojans,​ worms,​ spyware,​ and other malware viruses?
No,​ no,​ no .​
This is​ a​ classic case of​ bad reporting doing more damage than no reporting at​ all .​
In this case,​ the​ damage bad reporting has done is​ to​ promote a​ common myth that goes something like this: the​ only malicious software is​ a​ virus .​
Viruses damage your computer .​
Therefore,​ if​ my computer is​ working OK,​ my computer has no malicious software .​
I​ only need to​ scan my computer for problems when there is​ a​ sign of​ problems .​
Thanks to​ this myth,​ many people complacently let their antivirus software go months out of​ date,​ not wanting to​ be bothered with scheduling an​ automatic update .​
Just as​ bad,​ many people don't have any extra software to​ combat the​ other types of​ malware that may not be covered by antivirus software .​
In fact,​ it's not uncommon for people who have found malware on​ their computers after a​ scan to​ say,​ but I​ never had malware on​ my computer before! But how would they have known if​ they had never scanned!
Until the​ biggest mainstream media--and especially television--start educating the​ public about the​ need to​ have their computers automatically scanned at​ least daily,​ the​ world will continue to​ have major,​ drawn-out problems with malware that could have been wiped out as​ soon as​ soon as​ the​ anti-malware software makers discovered it .​
And until that day,​ the​ mainstream media will have many more opportunities to​ run hysterical stories about viruses,​ thereby forcing them to​ sell more newspapers and broadcast to​ even larger audiences of​ people who suck at​ the​ information trough yet somehow never become full.




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