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All about worms

Worms use exploits or loopholes in operating systems or other programmes (e-mail clients and Internet browsers, for instance) to propagate or harm systems.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2003 15:40 IST
PTI

Worms use exploits or loopholes in operating systems or other programmes (e-mail clients and Internet browsers, for instance) to propagate or harm systems.

Worms are quite similar to viruses when it comes to spreading, except that they're a lot more intelligent and sophisticated. Depending on how a worm is programmed, it can or cannot damage data, but can always be used to sniff out data such as a credit card number or a password.

Just like viruses, worms can be lethal too. A worm is a piece of code that tries to infiltrate another programme and then attempts to either destroy the data of the programme or keep infecting more files and programmes on the sly.

Because of their small size and dependency on JavaScript/Active-X exploits, they can also be embedded in Web pages so that they launch themselves whenever you visit such sites.

One example of a worm like this is the popular Nimda ('admin' spelled backwards) worm which spread like wildfire and created havoc by crippling systems worldwide. Nimda took advantage of the loopholes in the Microsoft server, browser and e-mail software to infiltrate PCs.

Worms can spread in four different ways: via server, via e-mail, through Web pages and by shared folders on the local network.