Last week we talked about what a computer virus is, where they come from, and why they exist. This week we’ll take a brief look at some of the different types of computer viruses.
As cold and flu season wraps up, most of us are pretty well acquainted with the fact that many different types of viruses can attack our bodies and interrupt our overall wellness. A different sort of “virus” can negatively impact the health of our computers. That said, we can easily see how it’s probably a good idea to understand and know a little about the ones that can invade our computers.
Boot sector Virus
As the name implies, this infects the boot sectors on the hard and removable drives. Rummaging through these sectors destroying the data needed to boot your computer or operate the removable hardware, rendering the computer unbootable. Boot Sector viruses are usually spread through your removable hardware. Typically, the most common way to remove a boot sector virus is a complete system format and re-install of the operating system.
Multipartite or “hybrid” Virus
This one can be pretty sneaky, it can waltz into your computer pretending to be an executable, or even by being part of a boot sector virus. From there it will spread quickly, altering or destroying your data. Multipartite Viruses use this two-pronged attack making them fairly hard to remove. Even if you use an antivirus program to remove it, this bug might still be hiding in your boot sector, from which it can reproduce and spread all over again. A vicious circle that never seems to end.
Direct Action Virus
This is a very common type of virus. Unlike it’s cousins, it doesn’t install by itself on the hard drive, delete files, hinder system performance, or remain hidden on the computer’s memory. Basically, this tricky virus only executes when someone clicks a button to install a program or web link. After that it hunts down and infects other similar files. Direct Action Viruses are easily removed with by a typical antivirus program.
This is possibly the most common type of virus infection. Like the Direct Action Viruses, they execute when someone clicks the file or link they are attached to. Unfortunately, they do install on your computer, which allows them to continue to work even when the original source of the virus has been removed. They make themselves so at home on your computer they can even disable your antivirus, leaving them free to run amok in your computer unhindered.
A rather frustrating virus, because it deletes the files it infects. Spread mainly through emails, it can infect both entire programs or stand-alone files, such as an Excel spreadsheet or Excel itself. The low visibility of the Overwrite Virus makes it extremely difficult for most anti-virus programs to detect.
While most viruses find files and data to infect, Spacefiller or “Cavity” viruses makes its home in the empty space in the files themselves. This stealthy one has been relatively rare until recently, with the rise in the use of Windows Portable Executables seeming to bring it back to life.
This brief post is by no means a complete list of all the types of viruses that can infect your computer. New viruses are being concocted on a daily basis.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, the battle against the computer virus can be won. Next week we’ll take a look at what you can do to protect yourself from these, and other types of computer viruses.