Viruses are small, highly efficient and malicious pieces of code that can hide themselves in emails, documents, images, you name it. If your anti virus program is telling you that your system is infected, and you are wondering how or when this happened, the source can be an infected flash drive your photographer gave you to check your anniversary photos, an email you received, an image you downloaded from the net, a file your received from your social network buddy, or your mom’s mobile you set up Bluetooth connection with this morning.
None of these people need to be carrying any grudges against you, but they all have one thing in common: a device or a computer, from where the infection might have originated.
Since everything on your computer is a piece of code that was written by humans, it’s likely that they made blunders. There are many well known mistakes like the fencepost error, which is basically merely a counting error often made, even by experienced programmers with best intentions. You would be surprised to know that such mistakes, though they sound benign, become vulnerabilities that writers of viruses use to play their tricks on. Even if you have been super cautious as to where you buy your software from, what software maker’s software to buy, and who has access to your computer, these vulnerabilities can be found in programs by even the most reputed software firms. There really is no guarantee thus, that you won’t have to deal with infections on your computer at some point in your life.
Once infected, however, you must not rest till you are sure your computer is clean and healthy again, because a virus can inflict damages such as:
- loss and corruption of files beyond recovery,
- chocking of your home or office network with denial of service attack which happens when fake requests are made on your router to overwhelm it,
- mysterious disappearance of your computer’s hard drive space,
- slowing down of your computer, at times so much as to render it useless,
- people calling you and telling you that they are receiving awkward and ‘uncharacteristic of you’ emails from your account
- outright hardware damage due to overheating.
So, while we all hope that our systems never fall sick, we must stay prepared with updated anti virus and firewall software, should we need to deal with it. Keeping your system healthy is after all not very different from keeping yourself healthy, which is all about making a conscious effort everyday. Just like you can’t take all the pills and do all the exercise one day and expect to stay healthy all year round, the same way your system needs regular scans, updates and upgrades in order for it to stay productive and healthy.