Computer viruses are incredibly destructive programs that put themselves on your computer without your knowledge or consent. They then start to duplicate very rapidly, until they have infected every element of your computer. Generally, they will also do something more specific. For instance, some may search specifically for your stored login details and passwords. Others will replicate by sending themselves to all your contacts. While some may just send funny messages that are completely harmless, others could potentially steal your identity and cause you huge financial problems. This is why you must look into the various antivirus options that are out there.
What Is Antivirus Software?
It is a type of software that detects viruses and gets to work on removing them. The two main factors involved in it are known as heuristic detectors and signature scanners. The latter is designed to actually spot threats that are known to be already out there, working on a list of existing viruses. Heuristic scanners, by contrast, are designed to identify potentially malicious programs that could be unclassified viruses.
Not too long ago, a virus would always be found in an .exe (executable) file. After that, they moved slightly and were added to .com files as well. This made the lives of antivirus programs very easy, because they could ignore all files that were not either .exe or .com. However, today, viruses can be hidden in any type of file, from a word document to a photograph and from a website to a document. This means scanners have to be constantly on guard and on the lookout for new things.
A lot of people use marcos in word processing files. This means that they create a specific type of action that they often repeat to a single shortcut. While this is a great way to save time, it is actually also a very dangerous practice. Yes, it is great to be able to just shortcut a 200 word legal disclaimer in a document, but they are also very common hiding places for viruses. A programmer, and virus writers are some of the most proficient programmers in the world, can very easily save a virus in a macro. These macros are then put in documents that are sent to others via emails. As soon as someone opens the attachment, the virus will be on their computer. This is also why it is so important to never open attachments, unless you are expecting one, even from trusted sources.
Viruses can easily hide in other places as well, including non-executable files. As soon as the files are opened, which is sometimes done by your computer’s own programming, the virus starts to infect your machine. Outlook and Outlook Express are known to be particularly vulnerable to viruses that have been placed in an email’s body. This means that when you so much as preview a message, you will be infected with the virus.
A virus is designed to remain hidden. This is why you need a proper virus scanner on your machine.