A computer virus is a type of malicious program (or “malware”) that, if executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code or making copies of itself on the computer system. Virus writers use social engineering (email, USBs, downloaded material, foreign websites, etc.) as a point of entry into an organisation or system to start the spread of viruses.

Email is one of the primary avenues of attack that is commonly exploited. Email addresses and address groups are publicly visible and will often be a botnet’s avenue into an organisation. Users need to be highly suspicious of attachments received by mail from any source as ‘spoofing’ of mail addresses is a common tool employed by syndicates and botnets. Spoofing occurs when the sender address is manipulated to appear as if it originates from a mailbox that belongs to someone else.

Be cautious – you could receive an email with a virus-infected attachment from addresses that are known to you. If you receive a random email that seems suspicious, even if it is from someone you know, check with them by means of out-of- band communication (e.g. SMS) first before opening any attachments.

Objectives of a virus

  • Damaging the programs and data on your computer
  • Using your computer and it internet connection to spread viruses by collecting account numbers and passwords
  • Using your computer to generate high volumes of traffic that can contribute to slowing down internet traffic
  • Infecting your computer and using it to cause further damage via email and the internet

How to prevent virus attacks

  • Be wary of opening email attachments unless you are 100% sure what they are and where they came from
  • Make sure that your anti-virus software is always kept up to date