This page contains answers to common questions handled by our support staff, along with some tips and tricks that we have found useful and presented here as questions. Please read through these to see if your question may already be answered here or you may call us at 732-489-0485.
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A computer virus is a program – a piece of executable code – that has the unique ability to replicate. Like biological viruses, computer viruses can spread quickly and are often difficult to eradicate. They can attach themselves to just about any type of file and are spread as files that are copied and sent from individual to individual.
In addition to replication, some computer viruses share another commonality: a damage routine that delivers the virus payload. While payloads may only display messages or images, they can also destroy files, reformat your hard drive, or cause other damage. If the virus does not contain a damage routine, it can cause trouble by consuming storage space and memory, and degrading the overall performance of your computer.
Several years ago most viruses spread primarily via floppy disk, but the Internet has introduced new virus distribution mechanisms. With email now used as an essential business communication tool, viruses are spreading faster than ever. Viruses attached to email messages can infect an entire enterprise in a matter of minutes, costing companies millions of dollars annually in lost productivity and clean-up expenses.
Viruses won't go away anytime soon: More than 60,000 have been identified, and 400 new ones are created every month, according to the International Computer Security Association (ICSA). With numbers like this, it's safe to say that most organizations will regularly encounter virus outbreaks. No one who uses computers is immune to viruses.
A worm is a computer program that has the ability to copy itself from machine to machine. Worms normally move around and infect other machines through computer networks. Using a network, a worm can expand from a single copy incredibly quickly. For example, the Code Red worm replicated itself over 250,000 times in approximately nine hours on July 19, 2001. A worm usually exploits some sort of security hole in a piece of software or the operating system. For example, the Slammer worm (which caused mayhem in January 2003) exploited a hole in Microsoft's SQL server.
Worms use up computer time and network bandwidth when they are replicating, and they often have some sort of evil intent. A worm called Code Red made huge headlines in 2001. Experts predicted that this worm could clog the Internet so effectively that things would completely grind to a halt.
The Code Red worm slowed down Internet traffic when it began to replicate itself, but not nearly as badly as predicted. Each copy of the worm scanned the Internet for Windows NT or Windows 2000 servers that do not have the Microsoft security patch installed. Each time it found an unsecured server, the worm copied itself to that server. The new copy then scanned for other servers to infect. Depending on the number of unsecured servers, a worm could conceivably create hundreds of thousands of copies.
A Trojan is a piece of code that performs unexpected or unauthorized, often malicious, actions. The main difference between a Trojan and a virus is the inability to replicate. Trojans cause damage, unexpected system behavior, and compromise the security of systems, but do not replicate. If it replicates, then it should be classified as a virus.
A Trojan, coined from Greek mythology's Trojan horse, typically comes in good packaging but has some hidden malicious intent within its code. When a Trojan is executed users will likely experience unwanted system problems in operation, and sometimes loss of valuable data.
Spyware/Adware/Malware apps sneak onto your machine when you download many file-sharing services, open infected e-mails, or click on dubious Internet pop-up ads. They can manipulate your system, record your habits, and steal your passwords and credit card numbers. Depending on their degree of aggressiveness, they can steal your privacy or even your identity. And they can be terribly difficult to remove.