Computer VirusesStrange as it may sound, the computer virus is something of an Information Age marvel. On one hand, viruses show us how vulnerable we are - a properly engineered virus can have a devastating effect, disrupting productivity and doing billions of dollars in damages. On the other hand, they show us how sophisticated and interconnected human beings have become.
For example, experts estimate that the Mydoom worm infected approximately a quarter-million computers in a single day in January 2004. Back in March 1999, the Melissa virus was so powerful that it forced Microsoft and a number of other very large companies to completely turn off their e-mail systems until the virus could be contained. The ILOVEYOU virus in 2000 had a similarly devastating effect. In January 2007, a worm called Storm appeared - by October, experts believed up to 50 million computers were infected. That's pretty impressive when you consider that many viruses are incredibly simple.
The most common forms of electronic infection are:
A computer virus is a computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. 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 a reproductive ability.
Malware includes computer viruses, computer worms, ransomware, trojan horses, keyloggers, most rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware, malicious BHOs and other malicious software. The majority of active malware threats are usually trojans or worms rather than viruses. Malware such as trojan horses and worms is sometimes confused with viruses, 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.