As a cybersecurity company we deal with malware on a daily basis. We pride ourselves on educating others about how to stay safe while using the Internet, and show them how to avoid things like viruses or worms.

Now what is the difference between a virus and a worm? Well first of all, they’re both a form of malware. A virus is basically a piece of malware that is able to imitate itself and spread to other programs on your computer with the goal of deleting important documents and infecting other files on your device. Viruses have to be activated by the device’s host, and can’t stand alone. On the other hand, a worm is a type of virus. Worms also replicate themselves like viruses do, and they have similar goals as viruses. Unlike viruses though, worms don’t need a host. They are able to stand alone. Worms find a vulnerability in your computer system, and that’s how it is able to infiltrate your device.

There’s plenty of types of worm malware, but here are some of the most common ones.

  • Internet worms – These types of worms focus on websites by infecting the site and mimicking normal functions so that it can get onto users computers that have visited the infected website. After worms have gotten onto these computers through the infected website, they’re able to travel to other devices that are using the same internet network.
  • Email worms – These worms are distributed through emails with dangerous attachments or links. Once the attachment or link is opened, the worm is activated. The worm then is able to look through the contacts of the person who opened the attachment, and also sends emails to those people. Continuing the cycle.
  • File-sharing worms – This worm is actually considered to be illegal. Like an email worm, a file-sharing worm is shared through malicious attachments. These attachments are extremely legitimate looking, possibly taking the form of a work email so that you are more willing to open the file. Once the fake file is opened, the worm is activated. Be cautious when it comes to attachments because file-sharing worms are super destructive! Send the person that sent it an email to confirm it’s legitimate.

Symptoms of a computer worm include:

  • Computer freezing
  • Sluggish performance
  • Missing files
  • Abnormal computer behavior
  • Programs opening on their own
  • Emails sending without your permission

Some tips to avoid viruses and worms:

  1. Be skeptical of any attachment – Unless you know without a doubt that you’ve been sent an attachment, be somewhat skeptical. Ask yourself “Is it normal to get an attachment from this person?” and “Is this necessary to open?” Like earlier stated, if you unexpectedly get an attachment, don’t be afraid to ask about it to the person who sent it in the first place.
  2. Don’t download anything from an unreliable website – Most of the time, people download things without checking to see if the website is legitimate. Be certain that the website is real and trustworthy. Have you heard of this website? It’s also a great idea to make sure the web address uses HTTPS.
  3. Backup your computer – In the case that your device(s) become infected, make sure to back up your information on a regular basis. This is a great preventative measure to take in any situation.
  4. Keep your software up to date – If you don’t keep your software up to date, old versions of the software that could possibly have weak points in its system will be present. This is potentially dangerous and this is where worms or viruses can creep in.

Click here download our infographic on the Four Tips to Avoid Computer Viruses and Worms

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