A computer virus is a program designed to enter a computer without
the user's knowledge and then to replicate itself throughout the
system, and in doing so alter the way in which the system operates.
Much has been written about computer viruses and their destructive
potential of these viruses - most of it true, and some of it completely
false. Here are some common myths and misconceptions about computer
Myth. A computer can be infected simply by accessing a website on
the Internet. Reality. Only an executable program can infect a computer.
Viruses do not exist by floating around the Internet.
Myth. Anti virus programs prevent computer viruses. Reality. Anti
virus programs installed correctly and updated regularly will clean
systems of viruses that they have been designed to detect. They do
not prevent the spread of every virus. Why? Because new computer
viruses are created daily.
Myth. Anti virus programs should be updated once a year. Reality.
Anti virus programs should be updated as often as the manufacturer
recommends. In some cases, the purchaser buys the software and receives
in addition the right to download upgrades as soon as they are released.
Myth. Viruses can be spread by email or by accessing a group bulletin
board. Reality. Viruses cannot be spread by reading an email text
message, but they can be spread if an email comes with an executable
file as an attachment, but only if the attachment is opened. For
this reason, computers should never be permitted to automatically
open any email attachment.
Myth. Most computer viruses are acquired by downloading data off
the Internet. Reality. Most viruses are transferred from computer
to computer as e-mail attachments, or on infected diskettes.
Myth. All viruses are destructive. Reality. Many viruses are destructive,
such as those that erase data or reformat the system's hard drive.
Some are more benign. They might change your screen saver; change
the date; display a joke on the screen; etc.
Myth. A Trojan horse is a type of computer virus. Reality. A Trojan
horse is a software program, not a virus - meaning it does not replicate
itself. A Trojan horse can be destructive because the software is
intended to perform an unintended and often malicious act.
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that any system will
not be infected by a computer virus. Common sense is the best defense.
Computer users should install a state of the art anti virus software
program, use it regularly, and keep it updated. They should also
always scan diskettes before loading them, and back up computer files
Why do credit professionals care about computer viruses? For two
reasons: First, because most credit departments are heavily dependent
on computers, and a virus can bring down the systems the credit department relies
on. Second, ignorance is not bliss. If a virus infects your system
[or worse infects your computer and spreads to others] because you
don't know enough to exercise caution, this will damage your reputation
as a careful and conscientious risk manager.
©2000 All Rights Reserved