I’ve heard some scary computer virus stories –as scary as the first time that I read Rumpelstiltskin as a child. I’m glad I’ve never had the ‘pleasure’ of meeting Rumpelstiltskin and there are a few computer viruses out there I never want to encounter. Identity theft, loss of important data, slow computer performance and frequent crashes are just a few problems that come with computer viruses.
It’s always good to be informed about things that you are afraid of – how they can harm you? Where they’re from? How can you avoid them? When it comes to computer viruses these are things I am curious about. Basic knowledge about computer viruses can help you avoid them or deal with them right way if you ever need to.
Boot Computer Sector Viruses
To understand how a boot sector virus works you’ll need a bit of information on what a boot sector is first. A boot sector is the part of a hard drive, floppy disk, DVD, CD and other storage media that carries a code to boot different programs. There are many different kinds but the volume boot record and the master boot record are the two main types.
Boot sector viruses like Stoned or Michelangelo infect your PC when it boots up or tries to boot up from a disk that has been infected. Any attempt to start up the computer from an infected disk whether successful or not, will load the virus into its memory. It does so by replacing the original boot sector code with a code on the infected disk. Once the virus reaches the memory it spreads to all disks on the system that have not been infected. It can also be transmitted over networks and by email attachments.
These viruses can be very destructive because they infect the boot sector which loads every time the computer boots up. Curing an infected computer of the virus is not easy and oftentimes impossible since some viruses encrypt the boot sector when it enters. You will need an effective anti-virus program
Browser Hijacker Virus
This kind of virus is highly contagious – it can be transmitted in a number of ways, such as;emails, voluntary downloads and file sharing. This virus modifies the search of a specific page on your browser and sends you to a page you did not intend to visit. They are created for a number of reasons but mainly for commercial marketing and advertisement. Browser hijacker viruses are very destructive and should be removed at all costs. Most people confuse them for malware programs because they may change the home page of your browser, alter the search page and provide links to a number of ads. They can be easily confused with adware threats because they tend to exhibit similar problems.
Some popular browser hijackers are SafeSearch and IBIS WebSearch. Getting an anti-spyware program can help you to cure an infected computer of a browser hijacker and defend your computer from other viruses.
Direct Action and Resident Virus
File infectors can be grouped as a direct action or resident virus. Resident viruses tend to find their home in the memory sectors of your computer and they look for other programs or files to infect when they are executed. Direct viruses on the other hand can only infect other files when the file containing the virus is executed.
Resident viruses can run offensively while direct action cannot,since it does not insert itself in your computer’s memory. For this reason most attackers tend to use the resident virus because it spreads easily. Nonetheless some direct viruses have caused a lot of trouble in the past. Win64.Rugrat and the Vienna virus are some of the first of its kind that gave computers a lot of trouble.
File Infector Virus
Your chances of meeting this virus is highly likely considering how common it is. It’s a kind of malware that links itself to executable files like PC games, spreadsheets, and word processors; to cause temporary or permanent damage by overwriting the file itself. Some viruses even have the power to reformat your entire hard drive.
Cascade, Jerusalem, and Win32.Sality.BK are popular file infector viruses. Not all viruses are classified as ‘file infectors” even though they infect files. Instead it generally refers to executable files with .com or .exe extensions and it can also be transmitted over a network
Many popular applications today like Microsoft Excel and Word contain macros –a group of instructions that can automate a sequence of actions. Because they are so common among applications it makes it possible for the virus to be transmitted easily. Melissa is one of the most popular macro viruses present today. It infects Microsoft Word documents and it contains passwords to pornographic websites.
This type of virus uses both boot infectors and file infectors to infect executable files as well as the boot sector. While some viruses will only program files, your boot sector, or your computer system, the Multipartite Virus can infect all three at the same time thus it can be more destructive. If the boot sector of your computer has been infected once you try to turn on your computer the virus will attach itself to your hard drive as well.
There are many more computer viruses out there that you’ll never want to meet. The list above excluded Trojans and Worms which are two common threats to computers today,although they vary from viruses in some ways. If you’ve experienced the wrath of any of these viruses or would like to add to this list, leave a comment below.