How Do Computer Worms Work?

malware alert

In the most basic sense, a computer worm is much like a computer virus but is different in that it doesn’t need to attach its code to another program to infect a system. Rather, it is capable of copying its code from one infected system to another without users activating it.

Computer security is part of the CompTIA A+ certification exam, so if you’re preparing to take the test by taking classes and undergoing an A+ certification practice test at CertBlaster, here’s a refresher on computer worms.

Worms are developed to spread

Plenty of worms are developed to send themselves to email address book contacts and to the contacts of those contacts, which makes them capable of infecting millions of computer networks in mere hours. In the past, some notorious worms have managed to infect computer systems all over the world and significantly slow down the mighty Internet.

Worms are designed to carry damage

While some worms are developed to spread themselves, other worms carry a “payload,” which is code that’s made to wreak havoc on the infected system. Typically, it could encrypt files and attempt an extortion attack or delete crucial system files. One of the most destructive actions of a payload is the installation of a backdoor in a compromised system. Other malware could easily exploit this backdoor, which would then enable the author of the worm to take full control of the infected system.

Protecting against computer worms

Practicing good cyber security habits is key to prevent worms from taking over your computer system. Mainly, make sure to:

  • Keep your operating system up-to-date to minimize the risk of newly discovered vulnerabilities from getting exploited;
  • Use firewalls to minimize system access by malicious software; and
  • Be cautious with clicking links or opening attachments you see in your email and other messaging apps, especially if you don’t know who sent the message to you.

The bottom line is you need to be very vigilant about computer security and educate yourself about how worms work and spread to avoid them from getting into your computer system.

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