Computer Worm Virus - Network Worm Virus

Of the three most commonplace types of malware (malware being short for malicious software, i.e. designed to harm) - viruses, Trojans and worms - the computer worm virus is the most deadliest of all computer virus because only worms can function without human intervention.

A computer worm virus is similar to other viruses in as much that they can replicate themselves but unlike other viruses, a computer worm virus is completely self contained. The majority of viruses need a host program to spread whereas a computer worm virus can replicate itself independently.

Even though they can be designed to do the same kind of damage (file deletion, program corruption, etc), a computer worm virus would normally only affect networks. Networks function by means of servers and routers and the Internet is nothing more than a large family of mutually cooperating public computer networks.

Servers are very much the same as PC's, though servers are normally faster and have more storage and resources. They 'serve' other computer systems by making their resources available to multiple users. Routers are just specialised servers, typically of different hardware and operating systems, and are used to route network traffic hence the name router.

Worms can be released into a network and because of their self replication behavior, can cause damage. Since routers use memory and processor time, worms, like viruses, can overwhelm them, causing them to slow down and become unstable. Viruses don't have to delete files to do harm, they can cause the processor, used to run programs, to be constantly busy. That effectively leaves no resources for other programs to run.

Worms often carry payloads such as spyware or backdoor installation programs. Spyware is used to monitor your computer activities and backdoors are hidden access points to your computer which can be exploited by hackers to send spam email or steal data from your system.

The fastest spreading worm ever was the infamous 'MyDoom'. It was first released in January 2004 and was distributed by email. MyDoom contained a message that read "andy; I'm just doing my job, nothing personal, sorry."

The author has never been discovered, but it is widely believed that MyDoom was designed to attack the software company SCO - Santa Cruz Operation. It was programmed to flood SCO's web site with Internet traffic and it rapidly spread out to the Internet at large causing a world-wide web slowdown.

For individual computer users, the worm's payload is the biggest threat. Payloads can be programmed to work around computer security by turning off antivirus functions or opening up computer ports. Ports are used by network software to move data in and out. Once done, the computer is open to data theft or malicious acts such as deleting files.

Worm Virus Removal

Firewalls are reasonably effective at protecting your computer against worms. They can be set up to restrict network traffic and can help to 'cloak' your computer. If your computer cannot be 'seen' it cannot be infected with worms which spread over networks.

However, as worms are also distributed in email attachments you should use extreme caution when opening mail from unknown senders or when someone known to you sends unexpected files.

Despite your best precautions, your computer system may still become infected. You may notice your computer acting sluggish or rebooting on its own and internet access becoming very slow.

If you suspect your system is infected with a computer worm virus, scan your system with antivirus software. If that fails to remove or find the worm, instructions for manual removal can be found on the Internet.