A computer virus refers to a malicious computer software program capable of replicating itself and then spreading from one computer to another and thus interferring with the normal operations of the machines. However, viruses do not always behave, replicate, or infect in similar ways. This is what brings about varied types of computer viruses and malware. In this respect, the impact of the computer virus ranges widely from a retarded system performance to deleting all files on the infected computer. As a matter of fact, the computer virus is indeed the most infamous type of malware that affect a computer system.
Types of Computer Virus
There exist different types of computer viruses which are categorized in respect of their origin, techniques or mechanisms of operations, types of files they often infect, their hiding location, the nature of damage they afflict on the computer systemm, the sort of operating system or platform they launch attack on, among other factors.
i. Boot Sector Virus: This is a computer virus with the ability to infect all forms of computer disks, hard disks being no exception. The boot sector is a portion in each disk that the computer operating systems set aside for the purpose of booting the computer. It contains a number of instructions that are person at every time that a computer system is either powered on or reset. In this respect, the boot sector virus is usually loaded first because the booting instructions are always processed before any other program is able to run. Boot sector virus were more common and problematic during the days when floppy disks were widely used. This was especially case because the boot sector of a floppy disk were designed to automatically read whenever the disk was inserted into the floppy drive of the computer. As such an infected floppy disk would pass on the virus when used on another program. Similary, a copy of the virus would be passed on any subsequent floppy disks that are inserted on the infected system. Common examples of boot sector virus include polyboot.B and AntiEXE. In order to avoid boot sector viruses, a computer user ought to make sure that floppy disks used are write-protected as well as take care not to start the computer while an strange floppy disk is inserted in disk drive.
Prevalence of computer viruses
ii. Parasitic viruses (also known as binary file infectors) – these types of computer viruses that usualy embed themselves in program files. This translates that the virus runs simultaneously with the program. Furthermore, while it is typical for other types of viruses to have been created so as it does not intefere with normal operations of the program, the parasitic viruses are acclaimed to have a tendency of loading a copy of themselves into the memory of the computer to the effect that they stay active long after the program has terminated. The virus thus monitors the system while active, searching for additional files to infect or perform other actions with utmost secrecy.
iii. Macro virus – This a type of computer virus with the expertise of taking advantage of programming languages that are in-built in majority of computer software packages. This virus infects files that have been created with such applications or programs that have macros such as word processing or spreadsheet file (Microsoft Word and Excel files respectively). Macro files have the advantage of being able to automate a number of operations to be performed singularly, saving the user the trouble of performing them one by one. In this respect, the macro viruses of these auto-execution potential of such applications by becoming active whenever the data file in which it is located is opened by a user. The virus, which is now expressed in a product’s macro language, is able to spread to other files and compromises the operation of the computer. In the recent past, macro viruses have established themselves as common computer viruses compared any other kind of viruses. Examples of macro viruses include Relax, Bablas, melissa.A, and 097M/Y2K.
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And with corporations increasingly using computers for enterprise-wide, business-critical computing, the costs of virus-induced down-time are growing along with the threat from viruses themselves....