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Hacking and Viruses : Facts

Technology | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

What is a Computer Hacker?

The term ‘hacker’ refers to a skilled programmer, who is competent in computer operating systems.

These people could basically solve any kind of problem arising in any computer system. These hackers (a few of them), also became experts in accessing computers that were protected by passwords and they were then called crackers. This was way back in the 1990s. Today anyone who performs any kind of computer sabotage is called a ‘computer hacker’.

What is Computer Hacking?

These crackers use small programs, that exploit the weakness in a computers operating system, transforming them into zombies.

Computer hacking involves violation on the privacy of others by invading their network security and causing damage to the software.

Computer hacking is a practice in which the computer hardware and software are altered, causing damage to important data or leading to stealing of secret information.

Hackers usually target computers connected to the internet. The hacker breaks into the computer security and invades user privacy.

Personal information like bank account details, credit card numbers, social security numbers etc. are exposed.

Hacking of computers leads to an identity theft, where a person could pretend to be another, by using his identity and gaining access to an individual’s personal details. He could even be misusing the other persons account for illegal activities.

When a computer is hacked, the user may receive a program which calls for activation. These programs could appear as picture files, MPEG or some other format that the user may recognize. But when the user runs the programs, there may be nothing significant happening. This should not be taken lightly by the user.

Meanwhile, the activated program attaches itself to an element of the user’s operating system, so that every time the user turns on his computer, the program becomes active.

If the user runs the program, it enables the hacker access the user’s system and enable him to do whatever he likes.

Today there are a large number of hackers, who with their wicked ways are able to affect any computer, whether he be a simple house-user, student, e-mailer, net user etc.

We see at least more than a hundred thousand known viruses affecting our systems.

What is Spam?

Very often, you must have opened your mails and found a lot of your emails as junk mails. This comes from networked zombie computers. It does not come from one centralised source making it difficult to track down the source.

These spam mails deliver computer virus or Trojan programs to many computers at a time. It also ends up sending messages and getting personal information about the system owner.

It is difficult to assess if the sender is a single user sending out spam or the computer is being controlled remotely.

What is a Virus?

  • You often hear computer users use the word “virus”. So, what is this virus?
  • This term was used to describe a machine code command, that when inserted into a computer’s memory can on execution, copy itself into other files and programs on the computer.
  • If the hacker desires he can pose serious problems in this manner.
  • A virus actually exploits a user, as it is in simple terms a piece of software or a command sequence that causes an unintended behavior in the computers operating system or application.
  • To protect your system, you must install and use a software that can be trusted and ensure that you always delete all unknown mails that you receive.
  • If there is any doubt about any software function, you must be very careful and not install the same. Always make sure you delete the emails that you receive from unknown senders or random people, don’t be curious to open these emails you receive as you could be targeting your system to a virus. You must remember that adult websites are a hacker’s paradise, so avoid them.
  • Another way of protecting your system is to not open advertisements that often pop-up while you use the internet. An easy way for a virus to get transferred from one computer to another is by sharing USB hard disks and CDs.

Types of Viruses

1. Trojan Horse

  • Trojan horse, in computers is a program, wherein harmful codes are contained which control data and ruin file allocation tables on the hard disk. It is considered a virus if redistributed.

2. Logic Bomb or Time Bomb

  • In this there is an erasure of data from hard disks or there is a corruption of key programs. It contains a virus that begins to destroy the system once the set time lapses hence it is also called a time bomb.

How to protect your Computer from Viruses and Trojans?

  • We can protect our computers by installing an anti-virus software.
  • These anti-virus software programs search for evidence by checking the behaviour that is typical of these virus, worms, bombs etc.
  • When the software finds a problem, it quarantines the infected files. These anti-virus software programs are not very expensive. There are some that can be downloaded or are available free of charge (for a specific trial period).
  • An anti-virus program needs frequent updating to avoid any threat to your systems. You can even set your systems to update the anti-virus program automatically. The same is true for your Windows Operating System.

How do we know that our computer has been hacked?

  1. It is actually very difficult to know if your computer has been hacked because nothing changes or shows on your system to this effect.
    You could look out for the following :
  2. Sometimes, you may find some new programs or files that are in your computer. If you are the sole user of your computer, this could be an indication that the computer has been hacked.
  3. To know if the hacker has invaded your system, you could look out for Backdoor and Trojans which are the most common programs that get installed after a computer has been hacked. These are programs that enable a hacker to get access to your system.
  4. Change in Password- A change in password can be done by the hacker, who can change the password of your online account. In this case, you must contact the service provider if you are unable to check your e-mail account.
  5. Another possibility of a hack is, if your password to log in to your computer system has changed. This is something that cannot happen on its own and hence you must check and change your systems password.
  6. A hacked computer shows a slower internet connectivity. This is because when the hacker takes charge of your computer, he remotely connects to your computer and a remotely connected computer signifies that it has been hacked.
  7. If you notice the computer doing things as if someone else is in control, it could be an indication that the computer has been hacked.

Hacking is a serious threat to society and is considered as a criminal offense.