What is W32 and How Does It Affect My PC?

W32 is a term that is used to identify different viruses and worms that can infect your PC by exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows 32-bit version operating systems. 32-bit refers to elements of the operating system that include the microprocessor, bus, graphics device, and memory addresses.

W32 is basically used as the prefix to the actual term that identifies the type of virus or worm which exploits your PC's operating system. Hackers like to focus on the 32-bit vulnerabilities since the 32-bit version of Microsoft Windows is a widely used PC operating system. This is why there are hundreds of thousands of W32 versions of worms and viruses that exploit Windows vulnerabilities.

W32 Viruses and Worms

Since there are so many viruses and worms that contain the W32 prefix, we will focus on a few to give you an idea of some of the ways a W32 can affect your PC.

  • Blaster Worm: A blaster is transferred to your PC through an email attachment; however, the worst thing about it is it does not necessarily have to rely on the user opening the attachment. It is capable of spreading itself by spamming itself to a large number of different IP addresses.
  • W32 Spybot: This is a worm that contains a group of worms that spread through the use of a file-sharing network. This type of worm can also spread itself to PC's that have been exploited by backdoor trojans and on network shares that contain weak passwords. W32 Spybot copies itself to your PC's system directory and contains commands for keylogging, PC monitoring activity, system information retrieval, and password retrieval, to name a few things.
  • W32 Sober: This is a virus that installs itself on your PC's operating system mainly through email and contains its own SMTP engine. It harvests email from your contact list, creates a message that claims to be from Microsoft that prompts you to install a patch to repair a vulnerability, and then sends the email out to all of your contacts without your knowledge.
  • W32 Klez: This is a worm that interferes with programs that are running on your PC and displays a bogus error message. It also causes serious deterioration in your PC's operating system and some of your programs will stop running altogether.

Most of the W32 worms and viruses enter your PC through email, websites, Instant Messaging, and file sharing systems. The only way to provide protection is to employ a reputable antivirus program that provides updates, secure your browser and email client, and enable your firewall. Also, make sure you are receiving the regular updates from Microsoft on patches for new Windows vulnerabilities.

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Many Internet users are unaware that most anti-virus programs quickly become out of date as new and more sophisticated viruses enter the world of cyber-space everyday.

Anti-virus software must be consistently updated in order to remain effective. In some cases it is necessary to buy an entirely new program to help keep your computer virus free.

Most anti-virus programs allow you to update the original program by downloading the newest and most recent updates to their virus protection system. These updates can then provide protection for your computer against new strands of viruses waiting to infect your computer.