A few dumb computer questions

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1) - What is the difference (if any) between a "worm" and a "virus"?

2) - I'm aware that infections can be transmitted by opening email attachments and by downloading bad S/W from the Net (not to mention unsafe sex, not to mention toilet seats). Is it also possible to be infected simply by opening an email?

3) - Is an email address on the Net (like Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) likely to be more or less safe than an ISP address like mine?

4) - Anyone have some good links for basic info on stuff like this?


-- (lars@indy.net), February 02, 2002


Worms are parasitic computer programs that replicate, but unlike viruses, do not infect other computer program files. Worms can create copies on the same computer, or can send the copies to other computers via a network. Worms often spread via IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

-- Pammy (hope@that.helps), February 02, 2002.


The definitive reference is my redoubtable former associates in Caro (I was never a member, but regularly dealt with many of them in the NCSA forum on Compuserve). Data Fellows website is a good place to start. They're members.

The quick answer to your question is, if the code can execute, it can possibly do damage. This is why Word macro viruses can cause problems. So can executable attachments to email or chat.

(It's also why I disable Javascript when I'm browsing -- that and the fact that I despise popup windows.)

As long as you don't execute any of these attachments, you're fine. I've got diskettes full of viruses here from when I wrote AV software for that company in Canada. I can read them, do directories, examine the code in a debugger, and do all sorts of things to them in perfect safety. I'd only have a problem if I was to actually *execute* one of these infected problems.

Likewise, you can chat to your heart's content as long as your chat program doesn't automatically execute scripts or anything like that.

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), February 02, 2002.

Lars, Yahoo and Hotmail both have a free scan for mail attachments. I picked up a good tip from someone here...www.trendmicro.com. Use the free scan, it's very up-to-date. The last time I used it, it found a boot sector trojan horse and cleaned it out.

-- (cin@cin.cin), February 02, 2002.

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