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What is a Computer Virus?

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computer virus

Computers are devices that have brought convenience and ease to our lives. These incredible devices have developed over the years to become incredibly helpful. From entertainment to work, a computer can do it all.

They’re incredibly simple to use, and you can personalise them to your liking. However, our computers do face some risks that are often overlooked by many people. One of the most common issues that you may come across are viruses.

Viruses are built by cybercriminals and their sole purpose is to cause trouble for computer users. You don’t want to fall victim to computer viruses, so it’s best to use good antivirus software to stay protected. If you want to find out more about computer viruses and how to keep your device safe, keep reading!

What is a Computer Virus

A computer virus is a type of malicious software, also known as malware. The intention of a computer virus is almost always malicious, and the virus will aim to damage your device in one way or another depending on what it has been programmed to do.

Just like their biological counterparts, computer viruses can spread from one device to another. This can often happen when a virus attaches itself to an email or a physical media device such as a hard drive or USB stick.

Unlike biological viruses, however, computer viruses are man-made and developed by cybercriminals. The virus can be programmed to do whatever the cybercriminal would like it to do. For example, if they want the virus to simply be annoying they can program it to send endless pop-up ads to your device. However, many viruses have much more malicious intentions, and they can be used to delete your files, data and in some more severe cases, they can even destroy your entire operating system. We will be covering some of the most common different types of viruses you may come across below.

Different Types of Viruses

Since viruses can be programmed with a specific function and feature in mind there are different types of viruses that could end up on your device. It’s important to be able to distinguish between these different viruses as each of them are unique and target different areas of your device.

  • Boot sector viruses – These viruses can spread through the computer’s storage systems and media. This can include anything from hard drives to USB sticks. These viruses are difficult to remove, and oftentimes need the storage or media device to be completely reformatted, erasing all data in the process.
  • File infecting viruses – These are some of the most common viruses. These are viruses that overwrite code in executable files. When the infected file is opened by the user, it will be destroyed. This virus will also spread if the file is shared with other people. These viruses are commonly spread using emails. This virus will begin to infect the files on your device and destroy them. The only way to remove this virus is to delete the infected files. This means you may lose a lot of your hard work if your data is not backed up.
  •  Resident viruses – Some of the most dangerous viruses out there. They can often go undetected by antivirus software since they hide in a computer’s RAM. They can also clone themselves if the original virus is deleted.
  • Web scripting virus – A virus that is often found on popular websites. It can steal your cookies (online data). What’s more dangerous about this virus though, is that it overwrites code on a website which allows it to insert links that will install other malicious software on your device when you click on them.

How do Viruses Get Onto Our Devices

There are several ways in which viruses can force their way into our device. However, the most common way that your device might pick up a virus is through malicious links. These links can come from different places.

For example, phishing scams are often used by cybercriminals to trick their victims into installing malware, such as viruses, onto their devices. Phishing scams are common, and they have developed significantly over the years, making them much more difficult to spot than ever before. Phishing scams don’t always come in the form of emails either, as hackers can send malicious links through social media messages as well.

Sometimes malicious links can be placed on the internet by cybercriminals. These are even easier to fall for as the links can be disguised as images, pop up ads, or even icons. Whenever a victim clicks on one of these the virus will be installed on their device.

This makes it incredibly difficult for people to avoid viruses on their devices. It’s easy to fall for one of these malicious links while browsing the internet, and oftentimes the virus can be installed on the victim’s device without their knowledge.

It’s best to try and avoid sketchy links from emails and messages at all costs. You should also try to avoid clicking on any illegitimate links while you’re browsing the internet. It’s impossible to always avoid these links, but luckily there is software you can use as a safety net just in case.

How to Protect Your Device From Viruses

The best way to protect your device from a virus is to use premium antivirus software. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any viruses, and if any viruses are found, it can take action to remove them from your device before they do any more damage.

It is crucial to ensure that your antivirus software is always kept up to date. Software updates are often sent out to ensure that there are no flaws or bugs in the software. They also add extra layers of defence against new tactics developed by cybercriminals to bypass the antivirus software.

However, you should not solely rely on antivirus software to protect your device. As the user, you should be cautious at all times and remain aware of what is happening on your device. Prevention is the best form of defence, and it is always best to avoid phishing scams and sketchy links that you might find online.

By Art Alex/


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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