What is a Virus
Computer owners the world over have had to face the challenge of a virus at one time or another. Viruses enter a computer in several different ways, in turn causing destruction and chaos wherever they go. While these cumbersome issues plague computer systems and cause a multitude of different issues within the machine, many users are left entirely uncertain as to what a virus actually is and how it can be stopped from entering the computer.
A virus is a piece of malicious coding written by a hacker for nefarious purposes. Viruses vary greatly in severity, with some viruses simply causing the computer to behave bizarrely or hijacking things like the computer's desktop. Other viruses are capable of causing much greater damage to the machine, removing sensitive files and causing the computer to crash.
Much like the viral infections that humans and animals face, a virus spreads itself from one computer to another without the consent or knowledge of the infected machine. This often occurs through transmission methods like email and file sharing. A virus will tack itself on to a seemingly harmless file, which entices the other computer owner to open it when it is received. Once executed on the system, it will begin working its magic.
In addition to standard viruses, hackers use a variety of other tools to access computer systems without the consent of the owner of the machine. These tools include software packages that are made to look legitimate, but in fact contain massive amounts of nefarious coding that can hurt the system in drastic ways. Some of the possible side effects of such infection include identity theft and financial fraud, as hackers will use these programs to glean information from the computer. Many infected computers are also used to spam additional users with advertisements. While such programs are technically known as malware, some computer users refer to them as viruses.
Regardless of the particular threat in question, there are thankfully a wide arsenal of tools available that can help to block the attacks of a hacker who attempts to gain access to the machine through a virus or malware product. The most common form of protection available is antiviral software. Antivirus packages are created to recognize malicious software and files before they have the opportunity to execute themselves on the machine. This means the hacker is never given the opportunity to access the computer in the first place, and the virus or malware won't be passed along to other users.
In addition to using a powerful antivirus software solution, computer owners should remain vigilant by carefully monitoring the sites they visit online. While online transmission is no doubt the most common form of virus infection, it is not the only method in which computers can become infected. It is also important to pay close attention to the files used on external media devices, such as flash drives and SD cards. Just like a computer system, these devices can become infected and be used to further spread a virus.