Similar to a virus, a worm is a malicious computer program that self-replicates and infects other machines through a computer network. One example of this is the Conficker worm that infected millions of computers back in 2007, and then installed malware on those infected systems.
In worst-case scenarios, a worm’s infection of a computer system could shut down a website completely. At a designated time, after infecting many computers, the worm attacks the desired website, which causes increased traffic to slow the site down significantly or to crash, otherwise known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS,) attack. Other attacks can happen through email, whereby large numbers of emails get sent out simultaneously, causing servers to crash.
There are key safety measures your firm can take to protect its computer systems. Among them are the following:
- Install anti-virus software that protects individual workstations, as well as servers, and keep it updated.
- Use firewalls to protect your network from unauthorized use.
- Secure remote connections to your firm using virtual private networks (VPNs).
In addition, individual computer users should take the following precautions: Open only familiar emails, be cautious opening email attachments, and only download information from trusted websites. A strong offense may be your company’s best defense against damaging security breaches.