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Types of Malware: Viruses

Often, the word ‘virus’ is thrown around to label any kind of malicious software on a computer. However, a virus is in fact a distinct type of malware with its own unique dangers to your network.

You might have frequently heard someone lament about their computer being infected with a virus. But what exactly does that mean? Much like ‘game’ can refer to anything from simple party games to complex sports, ‘virus’ is commonly misused to describe various forms of malware. This term can encompass everything from worms and trojans to ransomware and adware, all of which we’ll be exploring in our ‘Types of Malware’ series. However, it’s crucial to understand that a virus is a specific kind of malware, presenting a unique threat.

Defining a computer virus and its impact

A computer virus is a type of malicious program created to alter the way a computer or device operates. Some viruses aim to overwhelm a network, consuming so much processing power that even basic tasks become a struggle. Others are crafted to corrupt files, leading to data modification or complete deletion.

How viruses operate

Mirroring their biological counterparts, computer viruses spread by replication. Once on a device, they multiply, gradually infecting more parts of the device and escalating their reach to additional files. They can even transfer between systems and devices connected to the infected computer, such as when hardware containing a virus is plugged into a laptop or desktop.

Virus transmission methods

Viruses can’t infect computers or other devices without human intervention. This means a virus in your network is typically a result of human actions. There are numerous ways a virus can enter a system:

  • Opening email attachments harbouring a virus
  • Connecting to virus-infected hardware
  • Downloading compromised software or files
  • Visiting malicious websites
  • Interacting with harmful online ads
  • The Challenge Posed by Viruses

Viruses pose a significant challenge due to their rapid spread and extensive reach, making cleanup efforts substantial, sometimes even near impossible. Early detection can lead to successful quarantine, but widespread infections might necessitate a complete system wipe.

Strategies for virus protection

Given the extensive efforts required to remedy a virus infection, prevention is undoubtedly preferable to cure. So, how can you minimise the risk of a virus attack?

The cornerstone of defence is a robust digital security strategy, ideally crafted with the help of an IT security services expert. Specifically, for viruses, educating employees is vital, as human action is needed for a virus to infiltrate a system. The more your team understands about online safety, malware risks, and secure digital practices, the less likely they are to enable a virus infection.

At Perigon One, we emphasise the importance of awareness and training in building digitally resilient businesses. Contact us to discover more about our approach to enhancing your digital security.