Guide: The Different Types of Computer Viruses You Need to Know About

Did you know that within 6 months of a cyber attack, 60% of small businesses are forced to close their doors forever?

If you’re not prepared to defend your business against one of these attacks, you’re putting yourself, your employees, and your business at risk.

There are many types of computer viruses that are used by cybercriminals. We’re going to cover a few of the most common ones to help you understand why protecting your business is so important.

What is Malware?

You may see the terms “virus” and “malware” used interchangeably, but they’re actually different. A virus is malware, but not all malware are viruses.

Malware is short for “malicious software.” It’s any number of software programs created to do harm to others. The object is nearly always to make money, which is done in various ways.

The most common types of malware include:

  • Adware
  • Rootkits
  • Bots
  • Spyware
  • Bugs
  • Worms
  • Trojan horses
  • Ransomware
  • Viruses

When attacking businesses, cyberattackers are nearly always after your clients’ information. This gives them the chance to get into their computers to install malware there, or right to their bank account if you have improperly stored financial information.

What are Viruses?

A computer virus got its name because it works the same way as the biological viruses that we can get. It enters the system, replicates itself, and starts doing damage.

Viruses can work extremely quickly, and take over a computer system before you realize what’s happening. They can delete data and damage files beyond saving. With some types of viruses, only a complete system wipe can remove them.

Types of Computer Viruses

Now, let’s take a look at the different types of viruses that exist which can infect your computer system.

File Virus

This is the most common type of computer virus. In most cases, you get it by downloading something from a suspicious email or website. These come in executable files, like those ending in “.com,” “.exe,” or “.vbs.”

Once you’ve downloaded the file and run it, it gets direct access to your computer’s memory from which it can actually run your computer.

If the virus gains full control over your computer, it can drain your bank accounts and send itself to every contact in your email address book to try to do the same for everyone on your list.

Boot Sector Virus

This type of virus is not only one of the most destructive, but it’s also one of the most difficult to detect and remove. This is because of where it’s located.

The boot sector virus is not in the main part of your computer system. It hides in the master boot record. That’s where your computer’s operating system start-up code is. Even reinstalling the operating system won’t get rid of this virus.

Macro Virus

The macro virus is similar to a file virus, but it mostly attacks applications. In particular, it likes Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

Once it gets into these files, it can steal the data contained within them, which could include passwords, email addresses, or other sensitive information. It then damages these files so that you can’t recover them.

Multipartite Virus

Another difficult virus to remove is the multipartite virus. It infects both the regular program files and the boot sector. Because of its duel nature, it’s also known as a hybrid virus.

This allows it to remain on your computer for a much longer period of time. If you wipe it from the program files, it can still be hiding in the boot sector and will then reinfect the program files.

Stealth Virus

As you probably already guessed, this type of virus works hard to keep itself from being detected by anti-viral software.

The way they do this is by infecting the memory files. Once there, they can change the information about the file. This hides the changes that are made by its replication which can be detected.

Polymorphic Virus

This is another type of virus that is extremely difficult to remove from your system because of the way it was designed.

Every computer program, file, and the virus has a specific signature, much like a fingerprint. This is what allows an anti-virus program to identify and remove viruses. It only has to learn one signature for a type of virus.

However, this complicated computer virus changes its signature every time it replicates itself to infect a new file. Imagine how difficult it would be to track a criminal that had a different set of fingerprints every time they committed a new crime.

Why Prevention is Best

When it comes to computer viruses, prevention is the best approach to take. As you can see, many of the viruses on our list move quickly through your computer files and can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

For that reason, we recommend making sure that your computer systems are protected against viruses so that they can be detected and removed before they actually get onto your system.

While there is certainly value in running in-depth virus scans periodically, you need to have a real-time anti-virus program running that will constantly be on the lookout for any threats to your system.

How to Protect Your Business from Viruses

The first step to protecting your business from viruses is to get a quality anti-malware software installed and running.

To be prepared for any type of attack which could compromise your files, you also want to make sure that your files are backed up. Keeping your files safe and encrypted will allow you to recover quickly on the chance that you do end up with a problem.

You also need to put cybersecurity policies in place. Keep employees informed about the dangers of downloading suspicious software or opening strange email attachments and you could save your business.

Need Cybersecurity Help?

If you’re looking for the next step that you need to take in improving the cybersecurity for your business, contact us today.

We can help answer any questions you may have about the types of computer viruses that can ruin your business and get you set up with the right type of protection to keep them from doing so.

Would You Like To Learn More?