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A look at compuer viruses and the different ways they infect a computer

What is a computer virus? Computer viruses are just like that. A computer virus definition, Wikipedia-style Looking for an essay-friendly definition? A computer virus is a program or piece of code designed to damage your computer by corrupting system files, wasting resources, destroying data or otherwise being a nuisance.

Viruses are unique from other forms of malware in that they are self-replicating — capable of copying themselves across files or other computers without a user's consent. Basically, they are really contagious. Not every piece of software that attacks your PC is a virus. Computer viruses are just one kind of malware mal-icious soft-ware. Here are some of the other, most common kinds: To recap, viruses are just one of several kinds of malware out there.

Why do people make viruses, and what do they do? They are manufactured, often with great care, intentionally targeting computers, systems and networks.

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But what are these viruses used for? Or the Elk Cloner virus, which told you a little poem: Or a personal favorite: For evil Sadly, not all viruses are so cuddly.

Wifatch which appears to do nothing other than keeping other viruses out of your router. But still, there are far better ways to secure your router — and even the creators of Linux. Wifatch tell you not to trust it. Some virus creators argue they make the world safer by pointing out security gaps and flaws that can be exploited by other viruses with truly malicious intentions.

How do computer viruses spread? Here are some common ways in which you can get infected with a computer virus: Email viruses Email is one of the favorite means of transportation for computer viruses everywhere.

You can get computer viruses through email by: Opening an email with an infected body. In these days of rich graphics and colors and bells and whistles, some viruses are being transported in the HTML body of the email itself. Many email services disable HTML by default until you confirm you trust the sender.

Instant messaging viruses Instant messaging IM is another means for viruses to spread.

  • Ignore or delete messages with attachments appearing to be sent from official Runbox email addresses;
  • The plug-ins associated with your browser can also contain security vulnerabilities;
  • Give it a read;
  • Pirating software, music, or movies If you or someone on your computer is participating in a BitTorrent or other service to unlawfully exchange copyrighted music, movies, or software, you may be at risk;
  • More and more cybercriminals are depending on the polymorphic virus.

Skype, Facebook Messenger, Windows Live Messenger and other IM services are inadvertently used to spread viruses to your contacts with infected links sent through chat messages. File sharing viruses Peer-to-peer file sharing services like Dropbox, SharePoint or ShareFile can be used to propagate viruses too.

These services sync files and folders to any computer linked to a specific account, so when someone inadvertently or otherwise uploads a virus-infected file to a file-sharing account, that virus gets downloaded to everyone else with access to that shared folder.

Some file sharing services, such as Google Drive, scan uploaded files for viruses although it only scans files smaller than 25MB, giving virus spreaders an easy out — they just have to make sure their virus-infected files are larger than that.

Software download viruses Fake antivirus infections are one of the most common types of virus-loaded software downloads. Unpatched vulnerable software Last but not least, one of the most common yet most often overlooked means for viruses to spread is unpatched software. Unpatched software refers to software and apps which have not been updated with the latest security updates from the developer, in order to plug up security holes in the software itself.

Unpatched software is a major cybersecurity headache for businesses and organizations, but with criminals exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated versions of such popular programs as Adobe Reader, Java, Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office, us civilians are very much at risk of infection too.

A boot sector virus infects the master boot record MBRso the virus loads onto the computer memory during startup. As technology moves on, boot sector viruses have become much rarer, and these days they mostly live on as email attachments. Examples of boot sector viruses: At the 50th time the game was started, the virus displayed a poem on-screen. Its signature though not the virus itself crept up into the bitcoin blockchain in 2014. They are the most common type of virus out there and the easiest to create — which also makes them the simplest to get rid of.

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Examples of direct action viruses: Some act fast, some do their damage slowly — and are therefore harder to detect. Examples of memory resident viruses: Multipartite Virus These ultra-versatile viruses double their spreading power by targeting both your files and your boot space.

Examples of multipartite viruses: Polymorphic Virus The mutants of the computer virus world, these viruses shape-shift in order to avoid detection, while holding onto their basic threat capabilities. After infecting your files, these viruses replicate themselves in a slightly different way — which makes them very difficult to fully detect and remove. Examples of polymorphic viruses: Macro Virus Some viruses are written in macro language, with the intention of embedding them within software that allows macro mini-programs such as Microsoft Word.

That means your PC can be infected by Word Document viruses. Examples of macro viruses: How do I protect myself against viruses? Use antivirus protection You have to, have to, have to have some form of antivirus software installed in your PC and your smartphone.

There are a few exceptionally good free antivirus software choices out there ahem. Worried the software will slow down your PC?

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For instance, we help you find your phone if you lose it, which is pretty neat. Just get some antivirus. So for your own good, always go with an antivirus from a cyber security company whose reputation is at least as good as ours.

When in doubt, message your friend directly and ask if they really meant to send you that link. A few years ago we would have recommend you to disable macros, but Microsoft already does that by default. Which means cyber criminals try to trick you into enabling them with all sorts of dark mind tricks and fake warnings when you receive an infected email. How do I remove a virus from my computer?

Is your computer infected? Give it a read.