Firewalls, viruses and worms

What is a Virus?

A Virus is a malicious software program that exists on local disk drives and spreads from one computer to another through sharing of "infected" files. Once installed on a computer, a virus may modify or remove applications and systems files.

What is a Worm?

Acronym for a WORM - Write Once, Read Many times

A worm is a computer virus capable of disrupting a computer program. It is a self-contained program that can propagate itself through systems or networks. Worms are often designed to use up available resources such as storage or processing time.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a type of protective layer between your computer(s) and the Internet. When used correctly, a firewall prevents unauthorized use of and access to your network.

It analyzes the data that comes into and goes out of your computer. Based on the rules in the firewall, specific data may be blocked or discarded.

Firewalls can be either hardware (a device) or software (a program). Your computer setup should include both. You may think of a firewall as something that only businesses need, but if your computer can get to the Internet, you need a firewall!

Hardware firewalls are separate devices from your individual computer(s). They are often built into broadband modems and routers. If you have a broadband connection, check your documentation or contact your ISP to find out about your hardware firewall.

Software firewalls are installed directly on each computer connected to the Internet. Computers with Windows XP or higher can use the built-in Windows Firewall; Mac computers also come with a built-in firewall. Other firewall programs are available for most types of computers. Some firewalls are included with anti-virus or anti-spyware software.

You'll get the best protection if you keep your firewalls and operating system updated, and if you learn and understand the configuration options for your firewall software and hardware. A firewall isn't perfect protection, but it can help your computer and your personal information safe while allowing you access to the great resources available on the Internet!