What is a Computer Virus?

What is a Computer Virus?

A computer virus is a piece of code embedded in a legitimate program and is created with the ability to self-replicate infecting other programs on a computer. Just like how humans catch a cold or flu, it can remain dormant inside the system and gets activated when you least expect it.

A computer virus is developed to spread from one host to another and there are numerous ways on how your computer catches it. It can be through email attachments, file downloads, software installations, or unsecured links.

These viruses can steal your data such as passwords, hack into your social media accounts or online banking accounts, and even wipe out all your data.

Common Types of Computer Viruses

Cybercriminals are getting better and better at stealing confidential data and viruses that are being created are evolving rapidly. There are millions of viruses around the world, but here are some common types you should be aware of:

1. File-infecting  Virus

A virus that attaches itself to an executable program. It is also called a parasitic virus which typically infects files with .exe or .com extensions. Some file infectors can overwrite host files and others can damage your hard drive’s formatting.

2. Macro Virus

This type of virus is commonly found in programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel. These viruses are usually stored as part of a document and can spread when the files are transmitted to other computers, often through email attachments.

3. Browser Hijacker

This virus targets and alters your browser settings. It is often called a browser redirect virus because it redirects your browser to other malicious websites that you don’t have any intention of visiting. This virus can pose other threats such as changing the default home page of your browser.

4. Web Scripting Virus 

A very sneaky virus that targets popular websites. What this virus does is overwrite code on a website and insert links that can install malicious software on your device. Web scripting viruses can steal your cookies and use the information to post on your behalf on the infected website.

5. Boot Sector Virus

These viruses were more common back when computers were booted from floppy disks. Today, these viruses are found distributed in forms of physical media such as external hard drives or USBs. If the computer is infected with a boot sector virus, it automatically loads into the memory enabling control of your computer.

6. Polymorphic Virus

This virus has the capability to evade anti-virus programs since it can change codes every time an infected file is performed.

7. Resident Virus

A resident virus stores itself on your computer’s memory which allows it to infect files on your computer. This virus can interfere with your operating system leading to file and program corruption.

8. Multipartite Virus

A type of virus that is very infections and can easily spread on your computer system. It can infect multiple parts of a system including memory, files, and the boot sector which makes it difficult to contain.

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Protection Against These Types of Computer Viruses

A virus left untreated can wreak havoc on your device but if detected early, and appropriate measures are taken, then the recovery can be quick. Here are a few notes to remember to help keep your devices safe.

1. Avoid clicking on suspicious links

2. Scan email attachments before opening

3. Avoid clicking on pop-up advertisements and get a pop-up blocker for your web browser

4. When routed to another website, don’t do anything, and immediately leave the site

5. Install a reliable anti-virus program and always keep it up to date

Get Help from IT Experts!

If you are concerned about your computer’s security and unsure of what to do, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!


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