History of the Worm Virus

Over the past 20 years, hackers, computer highjackers, and angry computer freaks have had a field day releasing worm viruses out into the computer world. These hijackers and computer freaks are far worse than your average face-to-face purse snatcher. Because they are virtually invisible, these types of criminals are the toughest kinds of criminals to catch. You can’t cross-reference snapshots with police records, nor can you rely on pedestrians or a well meaning passerby that managed to catch a glimpse of the purse-snatchers mug. Hackers and tech-savvy thieves that hide behind code and computers are a special lot. Not only are they savvy, but they are sneaky and elusive, so much so that in the end, the only thing you can do to avoid becoming a victim is to become savvy yourself. More on this later.

While computer hackers and thieves can be slippery and sometimes tough to profile, anti-virus software companies do try their best to fight this unusual cyber element. Anti-virus creators have responded by attempting to develop anti-virus software that stays one step ahead of the hackers and hijackers. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated technology becomes, the more sophisticated the hacker becomes. And he doesn’t have to have a degree in software engineering and he doesn’t always come from a pool of disgruntled techies. In fact, one of the most recent and most destructive worm viruses, the Blaster Worm, was traced back to Hopkins, Minnesota — the home of an 18-year-old kid named Jeffrey Lee Parson.

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The Blaster worm spread on computers running Windows XP and Windows 2000. Created back in 2003, this computer worm was also called Lovsan, Lovesan, and MSBlaster. The first version of the Blaster worm was found on August 11, 2003. Many variants of this worm appeared. On August 13, 2009 the then 18-year-old Jeffrey Lee Parson released the Blaster B worm from his home in Hopkins, Minnesota. News about the Blaster Worm spread just as fast as the worm itself, so this helped curb the spread as well as filtering ISPs. On August 19, 2003, federal agents, based on suspicion that he had released a malicious software program, searched Parson’s home. Parson was arrested on August 29, 2003. Nearly a year later, on August 11, 2004, Parson pled guilty. He was sentenced on January 28, 2005 to 18 months in prison.

The first Internet worm virus in history was released around 1988. Called the “Morris Worm,” once released, this computer worm spread within a matter of hours infecting thousands of vulnerable machines across the country. Many worm viruses came into existence following the Morris worm, but not one caused as much damage as the original. The next major virus to surface showed up around 1996. The Word macro virus was accidentally included on two Microsoft CDs, but this was not the only means of travel for this virus. It had the ability to multiply rapidly through document exchanges. This worm virus hid inside various types of Word documents. Once a document was sent to an individual’s computer or to a group and that document is opened, the receiver’s computer would immediately catch the virus. The virus would pass from computer to computer through the receiver’s sent documents.

Three years after the Word macro virus faded, the Melissa worm appeared. This was a new type of worm that used email as its method of travel. Today, email worms are very common, thanks to Melissa.

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Other well-known worm viruses, following Melissa include Code Red and Code Red 2 which infected entire corporate networks; Nimda, which attacked bugs in Internet Explorer and Outlook, Parson’s Blaster Worm; the Nuwar OL Worm (email worm); the Valentin E worm (email worm), the Storm Worm, the Facebook Worm, and more.

So what exactly is a worm virus? A worm virus is a malicious software program. It can slow your system down considerably or completely disable it. Unlike a Trojan Horse, which is a malicious software program that cannot reproduce or self-replicate, a worm virus or “computer worm” has the ability to multiply at a rapid pace. It can spread from computer to computer and travel across networks and it can also copy address books and send itself out to everyone in it. Worm viruses can even freeze or disable entire servers. Some of the most sophisticated computer worms can actually tunnel into your computer system and give users remote access to your computer.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Worm Viruses

Never, ever click on links in an email message, even if you think they are from a reliable source. To avoid unleashing a worm virus, copy and paste the link into your address bar. Better yet, don’t bother opening the link at all.

·Never open email attachments from unknown senders. Even if you are a little skeptical, don’t open the attachment, period.
·Pay attention to the sites you visit online. Some websites are specifically designed to deliver malware
·Don’t cut corners. Install a firewall application on your computer. You might have a bit of trouble while surfing, but it’s well worth it. A firewall will prevent intruders from loading malware on your computer.
·Bite the bullet. Purchase security software that can detect any known and even evolving strains of malicious software.

Just a few effective malicious software and worm virus removal tools include: Norton AntiVirus and McAfee Antivirus. Please keep in mind that these software programs are not free. While you free malicious software removal tools are available, they might not be as effective as the tools with a price tag. If top notch security, it’s best to install Norton, McAfee or comparable antivirus software.

To “Free” or not to “Free”

To get rid of malicious software programs like the Blaster worm, there are a number of free malicious software removal tools available. You can download them directly from the web. Before you download any malicious software removal tool, you must make sure that the download is from a trusted source. If you are running Windows, stick with Microsoft software downloads. Microsoft offers its “Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool” free of charge for its Windows operating system. The great thing about this free worm removal tool is that it updates once a month and reports if malicious software is found.

From Microsoft:

The Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool checks Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003 computers for and helps remove infections by specific, prevalent malicious software including Blaster Worm, Sasser, and Mydoom. When the detection and removal process is complete, the tool displays a report describing the outcome, including which, if any, malicious software was detected and removed. The tool creates a log file named mrt.log in the %WINDIR%\debug folder. Version 1.30 adds Win32/Allaple to the list of malicious software this tool detects.

You can download directly from the Microsoft website or Cnet.com.

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