Instant Messaging Might Carry Viruses

By: Kadence Buchanan

Even if you have never used it, you are probably familiar with the new emerging form of instant communication known as instant messaging, abbreviated as IM. Much resembling the email success, the difference in instant messaging is that the two or more parties exchanging information can do it almost instantly without any waiting period in-between messages. But, as all other computer generated communication systems have been affected by the dangerous viruses out there, so do now instant messenger users have to protect themselves against malicious code that can be easily transferred and downloading directly to their computer.

Various popular programs, like MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Messenger, among many others, allow people to communicate in real time by exchanging written messages, sound or images. Unfortunately, neither this type of communication can be considered anymore sd virus-free. Hackers, virus writers and spyware coders are today able to develop their malicious content and release it with greater speed through the use of such instant messaging online boards.

When unaware people open the files supposedly send by the other party, their computers become infected with a possibly highly dangerous virus. Victims of such an unfortunate event reported their computers slowing down or that they even completely stopped responding. Others did not detect that something went wrong, as nothing appeared to change, but later found dangerous spyware installed in their computer, which was tracking down the information they entered and was transmitting it to unknown receivers.

Since this is one more Internet threat, people can take basic precautions to avoid having to face the stressful fact of having one day to format their computer system and loosing all their valuable information. First, one should be extremely careful before deciding to download a file through IM; particularly when the file is send by an unknown counter-party. In the cases when the sender is known, computer savvies advise people to use another medium, like email, phone or some other method, in order to contact directly the sender and secure that the file transmitted is not a virus. Second, it is extremely important for all computer users to frequently update their software operating system. By keeping it up-to-date, they can reduce the chances of having to battle a new threat that their older version was not developed to detect. Third, IM users should use the most updated version of their choice of instant messaging service. Visiting the IM webpage and downloading the most recently published version secures that their computers stay protected against malicious codes using IM software programs to be transferred from one computer to another. Forth, downloading the newest antivirus and antispyware versions is of critical importance. As these programs can detect and remove malicious codes, it is only logical to have them frequently updated so as to increase the security measures taken against possible harmers.

Communications
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