Have you every worked on your computer and realized it felt like being in a traffic jam during rush hour? Your computer moves slowly. Not only that, but your mouse freezes, and your computer programs won’t even open. If this is the case, you may have a virus. But what is a computer virus, what kind of virus do you have, and how did it get there in the first place? Why did it spread so rapidly, causing major problems with your computer?
Put simply a virus is a snippet of code that duplicates itself and enters your computer without your permission. Once they enter your computer viruses wreak havoc, deleting your files and programs at random. They’re very invasive and can often produce problems beyond repair. Viruses can also spread in other ways. For example, your computer can pick up pieces of code from a network engineer in your office, and the code spreads throughout the office without anyone’s consent. This type of duplicating code is called an agent. Since it doesn’t necessarily cause damage to your computer, it isn’t considered a virus, however it still behaves like one.
Many years ago, computer viruses were created from a similar breed. These viruses entered your computer through email or a disk. These little pests attached themselves to your files or one of your programs, like Microsoft Word. As soon as you opened Word, the virus replicated and attached itself to more files on your system. Depending how the originator wanted it to behave, the virus can attached itself to every file on your computer without notice. The files can be random (or separate) from your Word program.
Interestingly, the virus code could contain thousands of instructions. The code then inserts these instructions into your files and programs and deletes them. This type of virus is commonly known as a classic virus. With the advent of the Internet, viruses continue to spread rampantly through web browsers and shared files.