Unless you are a complete digital hermit, you have probably heard the term computer virus at some point in your life. While many people will tell you that a computer virus is by no means good, very few would be able to give you a clear definition of what a computer virus actually is. Understanding more about what a computer virus is will enable you to take more effective steps to protect your computer.
What Is a Computer Virus?
A computer virus is a form of malicious computer code or software that copies itself. A computer virus is created with the intention of spreading from one device to another, self-copying, with the intention of damaging devices or stealing as much data as possible.
The reason that the term virus is used to describe this malicious software is it works in a similar manner to a physical virus. Both a computer and a physical virus can multiply endlessly, causing infection to spread and limiting or affecting the way that the rest of a system can operate.
How Do Computer Viruses Spread?
A computer virus can spread in a few different ways. It can spread over networks, email attachments, downloads or even through USB sticks. The most common method for spreading computer viruses is through the use of infected emails. A cyber-attacker will typically send an email that appears to be from a credible and trustworthy source, to encourage the recipient to click on a link, which will then insert a virus onto their device. This form of cyber-attack is called a phishing attack.
Some other examples of computer viruses include:
This form of attack gets its name from the iconic Trojan horse ruse because it involves a hacker disguising a virus as a legitimate program. A Trojan virus typically spreads through networks or from device to device.
This is a type of malware that will encrypt the victim’s data and hold it to ransom. Ransomware can be spread through the use of computer viruses, but it does not have to be.
This is a particular form of computer virus that is distinct because it does not require the action of a user to be able to spread.
What Are the Signs of a Computer Virus?
As 24×7 IT Solutions explains, there are a number of symptoms of computer viruses, these include:
- Computer crashes
- Slow performance
- Unexpected behaviour
- Frequent data loss
Why Do People Create Computer Viruses?
Experts estimate that there are quite possibly millions of computer viruses out there. With every computer virus needing to have been made by someone, this begs the question: Why do people create computer viruses?
There are serval reasons why a cybercriminal might choose to create a computer virus, including:
- To gain control of a computer, a hacker then uses a computer’s processing power to, for example, mine for cryptocurrencies.
- To obtain sensitive information, such as personal information, business secrets or payment information.
- Simply to show that it can be done
- To bring down a network or computer
Whatever the reason that a hacker might choose to target your computer, you never want to be the victim of a virus. You should try to keep your computer safe and secure at all times to protect yourself against cybercriminals.