There’s no lack of scary things popping up frequently in the media to catch our attention. Antibiotic-resistant germs, chatter about enormous asteroid impacts as soon as the year 2032, theories of the super-volcano beneath Yellowstone erupting, bee colonies collapsing, biodiversity loss, global warming, weapons of mass destruction, corruption and much more all appear to be ticking time bombs.
There is another concern which should be higher on the list and so few people take the time to think about — our reliance on computers and the internet.
Our reliance on the internet has created cyberterrorism vulnerabilities on a worldwide scale. When most cyberattacks have a much smaller effect and are generally localized, or their risk diminished before they can spread, there are many others that pose a bigger threat.
A single well-constructed computer virus could wreak havoc on food and medicine manufacturing, public transit, environmental controls in factories, security controls in power plants, national security, and the market. In the past decades’ cyber attacks on businesses, including those involving a computer virus, have dropped.
But it is not just businesses at risk.
According to the Microsoft Security Intelligence Reports and Consumer Reports, 16 million families have experienced a serious virus problem in a previous couple of decades.
- 8 million families had spyware active in the last 6 months
- 1 million families lost money or had financial accounts compromised from malware and phishing attacks
- 32% of the planet’s computers have been infected with some kind of malware
- The estimated fiscal impact on families by viruses is $4.55 billion
Viruses are coded in a variety of forms and they do not just infect computers by means of opening an infected email attachment. To understand how readily your computer can get infected, and how to fight the problem, it is important to first understand what sort of viruses exist.
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Defining a Computer Virus — What Forms Exist
A computer virus is a sort of malware (malicious software) designed to be a nuisance (at a minimum) or to cause harm to some degree. There are other sorts of malware but a computer virus is distinctive from other forms because besides being coded to be harmful in nature they are also self-replicating. Like a real-life virus, this program is capable of copying across documents, networks, and computers without permission.
Simply put: they are incredibly contagious.
Not every piece of software that strikes a computer is a virus. Self-replicating viruses are simply one kind of malware. Others, capable of causing harm and evens stealing information, are also common among PC users. This can include:
Trojans: This malware hides, pretending to be legitimate applications (or comes embedded in normally safe applications) and after occupied on a system it will become a door for additional software/malware to infect your computer.
Spyware: This includes any applications designed to quietly spy on an individual when collecting data. The objective is typical to collect sensitive personal data like usernames and passwords, social security numbers, credit card information, and much more.
Worms: Worms target whole networks, occasionally doing harm as they travel. Unlike a virus that reproduces itself, worms rather move from PC to PC.
Adware: Adware is more of a hassle form of malware than doing any substantial damage to a system. This sort of disease forces ads and can hijack browsers to display specific content. Sometimes, adware is coded to open up security vulnerabilities for additional malware to infect the machine.
Ransomware: This malware infects the device and locks down the system through encryption, which makes it impossible to get files. Once locked down the consumer is confronted with paying a ransom so as for the key that unlocks the encryption. Unfortunately, oftentimes, the hijackers do not offer a working decryption key and rather disappear when the ransom is paid.
But then we get into a few of the more commonly known viruses…
Resident Virus: These reside in RAM (memory) and lead to the corruption of the file system, interfering with the normal functioning of your computer.
Multipartite: These viruses infect executables along with the boot sector and perform quiet, unauthorized actions in the background
Immediate Action: this sort of virus strikes very specific kinds of files, or particular documents while planning to replicate itself across. On the upside, they do not typically destroy or harm the host file(s).
Overwrite: An overwriting virus takes over the content of a file and overwrites it, destroying the original data. The only way to eliminate the sort of virus is to completely (permanently) delete the infected files.
Web Scripts: this sort of virus is encountered online usually via hijacked links that induce the consumer to a particular page where malicious code downloads and frequently executes a virus.
Directory Viruses: This type will change the file path when the infection occurs. Since the virus takes hold you might have trouble finding the folders and files for certain programs, and sometimes, programs may stop working entirely.
Polymorphic: this sort of virus is coded with encryption which makes it change every time it infects a new system. Not only do these replicate the same as other viruses but their ability to morph can make it difficult for antivirus software to track down and quarantine.
With our reliance on the internet and always on connectivity, the threat of a computer virus is extremely real. There is simply too much danger to operate a PC with no sort of antivirus software. The best way to protect yourself is to obtain the best antivirus software suites, compare features, and test them to discover what works best for your computer and other devices. Once installed, have a careful and loyal approach in protecting your hardware and information from the disease. Security software alone will not keep you safe — the second best protection against a computer virus is sound judgment and powerful internet savvy.