The Internet has made it possible for people to interact across long distances, but it has also brought the ability to inflict harm from afar using computer viruses. Viruses have been around since the 1970s, but the first major outbreak was in 1981, when the Elk Cloner virus spread across Apple computers. Since then, the number of computer viruses has grown, and these programs have become a major threat to the security of people's information worldwide. But by learning more about computer viruses, how to avoid them, and how to fix them when they happen, you can help to stop their spread.
A computer virus is a type of software that can multiply and spread from one computer to the next. Viruses are malware, harmful software that can pose a serious security threat, as these programs can send your information to other people and even delete your files. In extreme cases, a virus can take control of your computer and use your identity to commit cybercrimes.
Computer viruses are made by hackers for different reasons, including sabotaging an opposing company or cause or stealing information for profit. They can be spread from one computer to another through shared storage devices and through network connections. Some viruses can also evolve, which makes them more of a nuisance.
There are many different types of viruses. Trojan horses, named for the device from Greek myth, trick the user into activating them by posing as useful programs. Boot-sector viruses are located in the boot sector of the hard drive, and they are particularly difficult to remove because they activate before the computer fully boots up. They are known to reinfect a computer even after it has been cleaned. Email viruses are among the most preventable types of viruses because they are spread through email attachments: If you're careful about opening attachments or clicking links in emails, you can avoid most of these. They are mainly used for phishing, aimed at obtaining your personal information. Rootkits are used to hide malware on a computer to avoid its removal by antivirus software. Worms operate differently than typical viruses do: They do not require running programs for them to be activated. Macro viruses can hide in programs that use macros, like word processing programs and spreadsheet applications. Once an infected document is opened, it can infect the entire system. BIOS viruses, among the most dangerous, install themselves in the BIOS of the computer and are immune to cleaning and even wiping the hard drive. And polymorphic viruses mutate and use different types of encryption, making it difficult for antivirus software to identify them.
Being aware of the different ways that computer viruses can be spread is an important step that can help you to protect your system. It's also important to follow a few basic rules to prevent infection. For instance, avoid opening odd-looking emails or clicking unknown links. Infected computers can spread a virus through emails and attachments. If you are unsure about an email, contact the sender before you open the message. Avoid using public Wi-Fi connections without a VPN, as hackers can tap into these networks to spread viruses and/or steal your data. And always use the necessary technology to protect your computer. Install antivirus and antimalware programs, and keep them updated so you're protected against the latest threats.
Having a virus on your computer does not have to be the end of the world. Often, there are things you can do to fix the situation if your computer gets a virus. The first line of defense should be your antimalware and antivirus software, which can help detect and remove computer viruses before they are activated. The program will scan files and programs before you open them and get rid of any suspicious programs before they infect your device. Running a virus scan can also help you to get rid of computer viruses that have already infected your system. In the most severe cases, you can erase the contents of your hard drive to get rid of the virus. This is an extreme measure and should only be taken if you've exhausted every other option.