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Malware attacks might be on the rise, but viruses still seem to account for around 57% of them. That means computer viruses still continue to be one of the biggest security threats on the web.
But what is a computer virus and how does it work, actually? And does a VPN protect you from viruses, or do you need extra security measures?
Well, here’s everything you need to know about that:
A computer virus is a type of malware (malicious software) that’s programmed to change the way a device operates. Viruses are often self-replicating, and can spread from computer to computer if the user performs certain actions.
Computer viruses are usually spread through malicious attachments and links. If you interact with them that way, they will infect your device. However, they normally won’t become active right away. Instead, they will remain dormant until your open the program or file the virus attached itself to. When that happens, the virus will start infecting other files/programs in your system. It might even take over your email address, and try to spread itself to your contacts.
Some of the things a computer virus could do include:
Many people often get computer viruses and malware mixed up. Here’s the difference – a computer virus is a type of malware that can self-replicate if a user performs certain actions. On the other hand, malware is malicious software, and it includes a lot of other harmful categories besides viruses. If you’d like to learn more about it, follow this link.
These types of computer viruses used to be pretty popular with hackers many years ago, but they’re not longer used as often. It’s mostly because they are not that “reliable.”
Like most viruses, direct action viruses only started running when the user would open up an infected attachment, or run a malicious executable file. However, the moment the attachment or file was closed, the virus would stop working.
Polymorphic viruses can be very dangerous because they are difficult to detect – even with reliable antivirus software. It’s all due to the way they work – these viruses can actually encrypt and change their coding, which is something most security programs scan to locate a virus.
Once this type of virus has infected a device, it will start duplicating itself. However, its duplicated versions might be altered to perform differently.
Browser hijackers are used by hackers to redirect victims to phishing and malicious websites. Basically, the virus takes control of your browser. Every time you type in a specific address, you’re redirected to a phishing website.
While cybercriminals often employ browser hijackers, they are easy to detect and remove with antivirus software.
Web script viruses attack a website’s programming – normally the coding that’s responsible for displaying links, page layouts, videos, and images. The virus alters the coding, making the visual elements malicious. Whenever a user interacts with them, their device is infected. Some viruses might even run crypto-mining scripts, which can harm your device’s CPU.
These types of viruses are pretty much always present on a phishing website, but legitimate websites can be infected with them too. Antivirus programs spot them easily, though, and you can prevent them from running with script blockers.
These viruses mostly target Microsoft users, but they can also infect other operating systems. FAT is used for storing information about the location of all the files on the hard drive.
FAT viruses will often hide themselves among system files, and will infect the whole FAT once it makes contact with the malicious file. FAT viruses will delete or overwrite FAT files, effectively making the system unusable, and cause serious loss of data.
Macro viruses are often used to infect word processor software, like Microsoft Word. Like the name implies, the virus is written in macro language – the standard programming language used by word processing programs.
Macro viruses are configured to embed malicious code within the word processor program, or within documents and spreadsheets. Once the infected program or file is opened, the virus will start running.
After the virus finishes infecting other files associated with the software, it can start modifying the contents of documents, or taking over email addresses to send out malicious attachments to other people.
These viruses (also called hybrid viruses) are pretty frustrating to deal with because they spread through the system in multiple ways. How they do that depends on how they are programmed,
Generally, a multipartite virus will infect the computer’s boot sector, meaning the virus will be started out every time the operating system is started up. What’s more, the virus will even attach itself to the hard drive.
A pretty standard type of virus. It’s programmed to attach itself to the files you open and use the most – like Word files, for example. Over a quick period of time, the virus will take over the file completely. Also, it will run every time you open and use the file.
Resident viruses a very dangerous since they can hide themselves within a device’s memory. Because of that, it can easily infect any file that is run on that system. Even worse, most resident viruses are capable of loading their replication module within the memory. Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that they will be able to infect other files without needing you to run them first.
Resident viruses tend to run whenever the operating system starts up. Some of them can even attach themselves to antivirus/antimalware software to infect any files that are scanned by it.
Overwrite viruses can be extremely frustrating. Basically, what they do is infect a file or software, and delete all its contents, and then overwrite data in the system’s memory.
Many people think an overwrite virus isn’t that harmful, but the virus can actually destroy some of the original coding sometimes, making a program unusable. So, it can do a lot of damage to an operating system.
If you have an antivirus program installed, it will generally alert you when your device is infected. Still, if you don’t have one, or just want to learn more about this, here are the usual signs that point to a computer virus infection:
Keep in mind that most of these signs can also point to a malware infection.
Simply put, no. The truth is that VPN and virus protection don’t really go hand in hand.
A VPN is designed to protect your online traffic and data on the Internet, but it can’t protect your device from computer virus infections. The encryption it uses simply isn’t programmed to do that – not to mention that a VPN service needs an active Internet connection to work.
A computer virus, on the other hand, can wreak havoc on your device even if you’re disconnected from the web.
Of course, you should still use a VPN whenever you access the Internet. Using it alongside antivirus software is a very smart way of staying safe on the web.
CactusVPN is just the service you need. We use high-end encryption (like AES) and secure protocols (like SoftEther and OpenVPN) to protect all your online traffic whenever you’re on the Internet. Plus, we don’t store any logs, so your privacy will be fully secure with us.
And once you do become a CactusVPN customer, we’ll still have your back with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Here’s a quick list of all the things you can do to lower the chances of your device falling prey to computer viruses:
If your operating system becomes infected with a virus, your best bet is to reboot it into Safe Mode. But before you do that, make sure you have an external hard drive, CD/DVD, or memory stick with antivirus software on it.
Once you’re in Safe Mode, disconnect from the web, and start removing any temporary files you find. Many of them have likely been added by the virus, and deleting temporary files will make the scanning process faster.
When you’re done, you should start up your antivirus program, and run a full scan of your system. If it’s not installed, use the CD/DVD, external hard drive, or memory stick to install it. Afterwards, check your browsers to see if you need to edit your homepage settings. If you see any weird toolbars or ads, just reinstall the browsers if possible. If not, uninstall them, reboot the device, and make fresh install in the system’s normal mode.
Please keep in mind all those tips might not work 100% of the time. If you can’t perform any of those steps, or if your computer or operating system is too badly damaged by a virus, you need to take it to a specialized technician. You should do the same if you need to manually remove a virus from your system’s registry – especially if you don’t have any experience with that. Removing the wrong file could severely harm your OS.
You should also call the authorities if your country’s laws cover cybercrime – especially if a hacker has stolen financial and personal information with a virus from you.
So, what is a computer virus and how does it work?
Well, it’s pretty simple – it’s a type of malware that can self-replicate, and infect other computers on a network with malicious code if the user performs certain actions. Hackers often use computer viruses to make devices unusable, and to steal sensitive information from people.
Does VPN protect against viruses, though? Are you safe using only a VPN on the web?
Well, not really. A VPN isn’t designed to offer protection against viruses. It will protect you from various online threats, but it can’t keep your device safe from viruses and malware. Only an antivirus program can do that.
Which is exactly why you should use a VPN alongside an antivirus/antimalware program whenever you’re on the Internet.