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viruses, worms, and trojan horses

A virus is a program or code that replicates itself onto other files with which it comes in contact; that is, a virus can infect another program, boot sector, partition sector, or a document that supports macros, by inserting itself or attaching itself to that medium. Most viruses only replicate, though many can do damage to a computer system or a user's data as well.

A worm is a program that makes and facilitates the distribution of copies of itself; for example, from one disk drive to another, or by copying itself using email or another transport mechanism. The worm may do damage and compromise the security of the computer. It may arrive via exploitation of a system vulnerability or by clicking on an infected e-mail.

A Trojan Horse portrays itself as something other than what it is at the point of execution. While it may advertise its activity after launching, this information is not apparent to the user beforehand. A Trojan Horse neither replicates nor copies itself, but causes damage or compromises the security of the computer. A Trojan Horse must be sent by someone or carried by another program and may arrive in the form of a joke program or software of some sort. The malicious functionality of a Trojan Horse may be anything undesirable for a computer user, including data destruction or compromising a system by providing a means for another computer to gain access, thus bypassing normal access controls.


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