How do computer viruses work?

Wednesday, 21 January 2004, 12:49 AM EST

Computer viruses are mysterious and grab our attention. On the one hand, viruses show us how vulnerable we are. A properly engineered virus can have an amazing effect on the worldwide Internet. On the other hand, they show how sophisticated and interconnected human beings have become.

For example, two that made big news were the MSBlaster worm and the SoBig virus. The Melissa virus -- which became a global phenomenon in March 1999 -- was so powerful that it forced Microsoft and a number of other very large companies to completely turn off their e-mail systems until the virus could be contained. The ILOVEYOU virus in 2000 had a similarly devastating effect. That's pretty impressive when you consider that the Melissa and ILOVEYOU viruses are incredibly simple.

In this article, we will discuss viruses -- both "traditional" viruses and the newer e-mail viruses -- so that you can learn how they work and also understand how to protect yourself. Occasionally a person finds a new way to create one, and that's when they make the news.

At Channel Oklahoma.

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