Home Editor's Picks Six Common Types of Viruses That Can Infect Your Computer

Six Common Types of Viruses That Can Infect Your Computer

Six Common Types of Viruses That Can Infect Your Computer
Get started on your cybersecurity degree at American Military University.

By Marissa Bergen
Contributor, InCyberDefense

Viruses can attack your computer at any time, so knowing how to protect yourself is helpful in preventing attacks. Part of that protection is familiarizing yourself with the different types of viruses to which your computer is vulnerable. Once you understand how viruses work, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the unfortunate event that a virus infects your computer.

Six Common Computer Viruses and What They Do to Your Computer

To avoid an infection, here are six common computer viruses you should look for:

1. Polymorphic virus: When this type of virus infects your computer, it creates copies of itself. Each copy is slightly different than the others, making it difficult for antivirus programs to detect them.

2. Resident virus: A non-resident virus needs to be executed before it begins its infection, but a resident virus can activate as soon as the operating system loads. It functions by hiding in your computer’s memory, which makes it exceptionally difficult to eradicate.

3. Boot sector virus: A boot sector is the section of a computer’s hard drive or external storage medium that contains the information required to boot (start) your computer. A boot sector virus infects that part of the sector known as the master boot record and replaces legitimate information with its own infected version. This virus activates in your computer before it loads and may make your computer unbootable, so you can’t start your computer.

4. Multipartite virus: This virus is exceptional because it has the ability to attack two components of the computer at the same time. It infects both the boot sector and system or program files simultaneously. Because of this ability, a multipartite virus infects the same operating system over and over until the system and all of its components are completely eradicated.

5. Overwriting virus: An overwriting virus destroys files by infecting them and overwriting the data they contain. It can only be removed by deleting the infected files. In these cases, files are permanently lost and clean versions of them will have to be reinstalled on your computer.

6. Browser hijacker virus: Once this virus is in your computer, it modifies the settings of your web browser, including the default search engine and the homepage. Once the takeover occurs, the virus sends users to malicious websites.

This virus can also install spyware and ransomware to an operating system, compromising sensitive data. The virus spreads through malicious email attachments, free downloads and visits to infected websites.

Education Is the First Step in Preventing Virus Infections

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to get rid of these six common viruses once they enter your computer. But educating yourself about viruses and how to avoid them can save you from a lot of headaches and heartaches later.

About the Author

Marissa Bergen is a freelance writer from Brooklyn, New York. Passionate about everything from fashion to technology, her writing experience has increased her awareness of digital marketing, cybersecurity and the ever-expanding World Wide Web. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. Google her to find out more about her writing and her other life as a bass player in her family band, The CheeseBergens.