Computer Worms: What They Are and How to Prevent Them

The modern computer is an amazing device that’s capable of carrying out a variety of valuable tasks. Unfortunately, today’s computers are also vulnerable to an ever-increasing assortment of threats. While a variety of issues warrant consideration, it’s especially important to protect your device against worms, which, once embedded, can make your life difficult and impact a variety of other unsuspecting users.

The average computer user is well aware of the hazards presented by viruses, Trojans, and ransomware, but not everyone understands the prevalence of worms. These digital threats don’t always receive as much attention as they warrant, but that doesn’t mean that they’re worth ignoring. If anything, the public’s general lack of awareness makes them that much more dangerous. Thankfully, when their true nature is understood, they can be prevented or at least detected early on. Keep reading to learn how they function – and why proactive measures are so critical.

What Are Computer Worms & How Do They Work?

A specific type of malware, computer worms act as self-contained applications capable of copying themselves and transferring between devices. They operate autonomously and are therefore able to bypass the host files and code hijacking that typically accompanies other malware subsets.

Worms are often confused with viruses. While these two top hazards share a few key similarities, worms are notable for their ability to make copies of themselves and spread quickly. They also differ from Trojans, which operate by tricking users into launching specific applications. Self-sufficiency is a hallmark of computer worms. This makes them uniquely problematic, even when compared to computer threats that typically receive more attention.

The inherent danger of worms lies not only in their autonomous, self-spreading nature but also in their ability to evade detection. This stems, in part, from the lack of human input required for worms to spread.

Once they infect computers, worms can inflict several types of damage. Some turn devices into bots to be used in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Others seek financial information or other sensitive data. Occasionally, worms lead to ransom attacks in which the victim’s hard drive is encrypted.

Top Options for Preventing Worms

Given the aforementioned difficulties of detecting worms, it’s important to take proactive measures to keep them at bay. Otherwise, you could suffer an attack from this insidious form of malware months or even years before you’re aware of its presence.

The ideal preventative strategy begins with a firewall, which should block your network from undesirable external access. Don’t skimp – a quality firewall is well worth the investment. Depending on your situation, you may benefit from a strong business firewall or even a next-generation firewall (NGFW), which offers intrusion prevention and in-line deep packet inspection to address a variety of risks.

Once you’ve invested in an excellent firewall, keep an eye on software upgrades and patches. These should mitigate the vulnerabilities typically exploited by worms. Make the most of automatic updates and other proactive upgrade solutions to avoid the potential for gaps in security.

Your firewall and security software may do much of the heavy lifting, but you’ll also want to be on guard for suspicious email attachments or messages. Increasingly, worms spread on Facebook and other social media platforms, so keep an eye out for hacked accounts or messages from people you don’t know. At the business level, worm prevention calls for extensive security training among employees, who may accidentally spread this malware by clicking on problematic links or downloading attachments.

Signs Your Computer Might Already Have a Worm

Prevention is critical, but worms may spread even if you pursue a variety of proactive security strategies. Hence, the importance of early detection. While indications of worms can vary from one computer or attack to the next, the following are especially common:

  • Critical files suddenly go missing.
  • New files randomly appear on your computer.
  • Hard drive space disappears, despite a general lack of downloads or new software.
  • Your computer performs more slowly than it did in the past.
  • Top programs crash without warning.
  • Unexplained changes impact the general layout or appearance of your computer’s interface.

If you spot any of these key symptoms, run a virus scan as soon as possible. Scans are valuable even if you have yet to observe common signs of worms. Ideally, your anti-virus setup will already conduct automated examinations and promptly alert you to any trouble.

Combat Worms and Other Security Problems with NerdsToGo 

Whether you’ve suffered computer worms or are desperate to avoid them, you can count on the team at NerdsToGo Richmond for help. Offering in-home computer repair, our certified Nerds know what it takes to get your device in working order. We can help you implement the proactive security measures needed to reduce the risk of worms, viruses, and a wide variety of other common issues. From home-based security to business IT services, computer virus and malware removal, residential firewall setup, and more, we have the knowledge and skills it takes to deliver the best possible solution for your unique situation. Contact us today for more information!