Viruses, Virus Solutions, and Malicious Software

Viruses, spyware, worms, and other malicious code are an unfortunate part of modern computing. In today's world, an unprotected computer is at high risk of having some form of malicious software installed on the system: A protected system is still at risk; the risk is just lower.

By definition, a virus is a program that is self-replicating and operates on a computer system without the user's knowledge. These viruses will either attach to or replace system files, system executables, and data files. Once in, the virus can perform many different functions. It might completely consume system resources making the system basically too slow to use, it might completely corrupt and down a computer, or it might compromise data integrity and availability.

In order to be considered a virus, the malicious code must meet two criteria: It must be self-replicating, and it must be capable of executing itself. Three common virus types are listed below:

  • Boot sector virus Boot sector viruses target the boot record of hard disks or floppy disks. In order to boot, floppy disks or hard drives contain an initial set of instructions that start the boot process. Boot sector viruses infect this program and activate when the system boots. This enables the virus to stay hidden in memory and operate in the background.

  • File viruses Very common are the file viruses. File viruses attack applications and program files. This type of virus often targets the .exe, .com, and .bat by either destroying them, preventing applications to run, or by modifying them and using them to propagate the virus.

  • Macro viruses The actual datasuch as documents, spreadsheets, and so onrepresents the most important and irreplaceable elements on a computer system. Macro viruses are designed to attack documents and files and therefore are particularly nasty.