Computer Viruses Explained

Fingerprint scanner on laptop

If you’ve never been the victim of a computer virus, you may think that all of the uproars over these nasty little programs are making much ado out of nothing. You may even be thinking that computer security experts and anti-virus companies are using scare tactics to sell anti-virus software. After all, the bigger the problem, the more software people buy. Today, the anti-virus business is worth several billion dollars, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Are you under threat?

So, with all of this money at risk, you are certainly justified in wondering whether computer viruses are as big a problem as the industry says they are.

Unfortunately, the answer is that they are. If you get a virus, you could lose your money, your identity and your computer’s hard drive could break. With new viruses being developed constantly, the problem continues to grow. While many viruses are more annoying than destructive, even a “harmless” virus can use up valuable resources. The worst viruses can spread worldwide in a few days and wreak unbelievable havoc. The damage from one infamous virus can mean billions of dollars in lost business opportunities and damaged equipment.

With all of this bad news, is there any good news for computer users? Take this quick risk quiz:

1. Does your computer have antivirus software installed on it?

If you can say yes, you are much less a risk than people that don’t have antivirus software. If you say no then it is only a matter of time until you find out about viruses personally.

2. Does your computer have a firewall installed on it? If your response is yes again, you can relax a bit. You’re doing all you can do software-wise to keep your computer safe from a deadly virus. If you say no again, you are leaving your computer wide open for an attack.

Despite all of the media attention paid to antivirus software, people still have the “It can’t happen to me.” mentality. They laugh off warnings to protect their computers and say that they are working just fine. They think that because they never actually initiate a file download or send and receive files with friends, they are safe. A few months go by, and suddenly they can’t get their computers to boot up forever, and then when they finally do start, they plod along at a snail’s pace.

To make things worse, quite a few of these computer users who leave their computers unprotected are taking classes for computer-related careers. They are completely at sea when they have to try to repair the damage caused by a virus filled computer. Perhaps a basic class on computer care and repair is in order!

How viruses develop

Hackers are the people creating these nasty bugs, right? While some may think that their creativity ends once they have created a new bug, other people discover viruses through accident, while others discover them while looking for programs to bot on.

While you may indeed be a victim once, the real danger is something far more insidious. Those cybercriminals that hack into government systems, corporations, and important networking files are not quite done yet. They still have to plumb the depths of your computer to find every little piece of information that they can use to profit from your having been infected. Still, you can begin to put measures in place to protect yourself. First, you’ll need to invest in a good registry cleaner. No matter how much or how little your computer has been compromised, you will want to make sure that whatever poor unfortunate computer user opens the files up is cleaned of any viruses that may be present.

Virus definitions

Next, you’ll want to learn about some of the virus definitions and what they may be doing. Definitions are constantly being added to the various computer security software programs, giving criminals more clues to work with. While you may know that “virus robbery” is defined as follows:

  • A perpetrator or unauthorized user uses malicious code to harm computer resources or your computer itself, which can result in the destruction of files or personal harm to the victim.
  • A perpetrator installs or uses computer resources for illegal purposes.
  • A perpetrator steals private information or has unauthorized access to such information.
  • A perpetrator involves children in illegal activity.
  • A perpetrator serves no political or religious beliefs.
  • A perpetrator is hostile, abusive, or combative towards persons or other entities.

Furthermore, the following other types of viruses may be discovered on your computer:

Data viruses – These types of viruses are typically discovered during system searches or when a user attempts to perform some other task and fails to display the expected results.

Registry viruses – These viruses infect the Windows registry, the exact meaning of which is not clear. They do, however, permit someone to gain privileged access to important files stored on the computer and beyond.