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Harmful Effects of Computer Worms

by Joshua Phillips

Computer worms are just one type of infectious software under the umbrella of malware. A worm can root itself deep within your computer if you don't take proper precautions against this strain of malware. Worms can arguably be one of the most dangerous types of malware because of its coding and the purpose behind its design.

What is a Computer Worm?

Worm authors design their program to infect a computer and automatically create copies of itself to send to other users at its will. Unlike other forms of malware, worms do not require any human intervention to infect other users, making it a dangerous form of infection to have once it embeds itself in a computer. Worms may also use up the computer's processing resources and network bandwidth to cause additional problems besides infecting other users.

Effects of Computer Worms

While the specific purpose of a computer worm varies depending on its code, in general a worm will usually make copies of itself so it can spread to other computers without anybody knowing. It can send email using an address book stored on the computer and it can inconspicuously open TCP ports to create holes in your security security. Because this kind of malware becomes so intertwined with the system files, it is easy for it to bypass your firewall and infect any other computer that your computer communicates with.

Removing Computer Worms

Worms are similar to computer viruses, which means you can remove them in a similar manner. Running an anti-malware or anti-virus program can delete any trace of the worm, and updating your operating system will patch any holes that the worm may rely on to return. For example, the Conficker worm would infect various computers but no longer could once Microsoft released its security patch for the Windows operating system in October 2008. In advanced cases when your computer already runs sluggishly and cannot perform any actions, you must perform a clean installation of your operating system to remove the threat.

Famous Computer Worms

Some notable examples of computer worms include the 1999 Explorer.zip worm that deleted the Microsoft Office suite, the 2003 Blaster worm that intended to attack Microsoft's update website and the 2000 ILOVEYOU worm that users still find in 2013. In 1988, the Morris worm infected 10 percent of computers connected to the Internet at the time; this led Robert Tappan Morris, the malware's author, to become the first person convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986.

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