You are on page 1of 2


A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself[1] and infect a computer.
The term "virus" is also commonly but erroneously used to refer to other types of
malware, including but not limited to adware and spyware programs that do not have the
reproductive ability. A true virus can spread from one computer to another (in some form
of executable code) when its host is taken to the target computer; for instance because a
user sent it over a network or the Internet, or carried it on a removable medium such as a
floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB drive.

Viruses can increase their chances of spreading to other computers by infecting files on a
network file system or a file system that is accessed by another computer.

As stated above, the term "computer virus" is sometimes used as a catch-all phrase to
include all types of malware, even those that do not have the reproductive ability.
Malware includes computer viruses, computer worms, Trojan horses, most rootkits,
spyware, dishonest adware and other malicious and unwanted software, including true
viruses. Viruses are sometimes confused with worms and Trojan horses, which are
technically different. A worm can exploit security vulnerabilities to spread itself
automatically to other computers through networks, while a Trojan horse is a program
that appears harmless but hides malicious functions. Worms and Trojan horses, like
viruses, may harm a computer system's data or performance. Some viruses and other
malware have symptoms noticeable to the computer user, but many are surreptitious or
simply do nothing to call attention to themselves. Some viruses do nothing beyond
reproducing themselves.

What are Computer Viruses?

Computer viruses are programs written by "mean" people. These virus
programs are placed into a commonly used program so that program
will run the attached virus program as it boots, therefore, it is said that
the virus "infects" the executable file or program. Executable files
include Macintosh "system files" [such as system extensions, INITs and
control panels] and application programs [such as word processing
programs and spreadsheet programs.] Viruses work the same ways in
Windows or DOS machines by infecting zip or exe files.

A virus is inactive until you execute an infected program or application

OR start your computer from a disk that has infected system files. Once
a virus is active, it loads into your computer's memory and may save
itself to your hard drive or copies itself to applications or system files on
disks you use.
Some viruses are programmed specifically to damage the data on your
computer by corrupting programs, deleting files, or even erasing your
entire hard drive. Many viruses do nothing more than display a message
or make sounds / verbal comments at a certain time or a programming
event after replicating themselves to be picked up by other users one
way or another. Other viruses make your computer's system behave
erratically or crash frequently. Sadly many people who have problems
or frequent crashes using their computers do not realize that they have
a virus and live with the inconveniences.

What Viruses Don't Do!

Computer viruses can not infect write protected disks or infect written
documents. Viruses do not infect compressed files, unless the file was
infected prior to the compression. [Compressed files are programs or
files with its common characters, etc. removed to take up less space on
a disk.] Viruses do not infect computer hardware, such as monitors or
computer chips; they only infect software.

In addition, Macintosh viruses do not infect DOS / Window computer

software and vice versa. For example, the Melissa virus incident of late
1998 and the ILOVEYOU virus of 2000 worked only on Window based
machines and could not operate on Macintosh computers.

One further note-> viruses do not necessarily let you know they are
present in your machine, even after being destructive. If your computer
is not operating properly, it is a good practice to check for viruses with a
current "virus checking" program.