Computer viruses have been around for almost as long as computers themselves. The first PC virus, named Brain, was the creation of two Pakistani brothers in the 1986. The two created the virus to protect their software but the virus went out of control. It began spreading through 5.2” floppy disks across the country and then overseas.
The duo realized how far Brain had reached when they received angry phone calls from Europe demanding a fix. Viruses have become more dangerous and sophisticated since then. Here is more on the malicious software:
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What is a computer virus exactly?
A computer virus is a type of malicious software (also called malware) that rides on legitimate files and corrupts them. It spreads by infecting other files with its code. However, unlike computer worms, computer viruses require human action to activate. In other words, a computer virus on a USB drive or email is harmless until you copy it to your computer or run it. That’s why it’s important to be mindful against them.
What is a macro virus?
Computer viruses exist in several different flavors. So, what is a macro virus then? Basically, a macro virus is a type of computer virus written in the programming language rooted in software applications like Microsoft Word, called macro. A macro virus injects its code into the macros associated with Microsoft Office files. It executes when you run the infected file.
Macro viruses are dangerous because they can corrupt the work files you share with colleagues. They can also crash programs, corrupt data, and force the blue screen error. More sophisticated ones can request passwords and even send themselves to your contacts. Deactivating macros is a good way to stop a macro virus.
Polymorphic virus vs metamorphic virus
More advanced viruses evade threat detection by changing their code. The two advanced viruses you should know about are polymorphic viruses and metamorphic viruses. Both change their code as they spread through systems and networks, making it challenging for antivirus software that relies on known virus signatures to stop them.
The difference between the two is that polymorphic viruses use a variable encryption key and can hence be easier to detect. Metamorphic viruses, on the other hand, morph their code without a key. Metamorphic viruses can be even more dangerous that polymorphic viruses because they can change themselves into malware that’s almost entirely different.
Viruses vs Malware
While many people use the terms “PC virus” and “malware” interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same things. Viruses are just one type of malware. They typically corrupt data. Other types of malware include adware, spyware, keyloggers, stalkerware, ransomware, Trojans, rootkits, etc., which can have varying functions, from snooping on users to taking over their computers.
With viruses and malware using sophisticated techniques to evade detection and impact our security and privacy, it’s critical to use advanced antivirus software that leverages signature-detection and pattern detection technology to stop all types of malware. Such proactive cybersecurity technology utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify threatening behavior and prevent emerging threats from doing grave damage.
As viruses and malware become more sophisticated, so too should your cybersecurity. Now that you know more about them, beef up your digital defenses.
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