Friday, June 3, 2011

Types of Viruses

There are several different types of viruses, which are generally divided by what they do or how they get into your system.  On most of my other posts, I simply use the term virus to refer any type; though, by definition a virus is an infection that can spread from one computer to another, and this is not necessarily true of all virus types.  Some virus require additional help to be installed on a system and once on a system do not necessarily replicate themselves to other systems on the network.

Common virus types include:

  • Trojan Horses – if you know what the real Trojan horse was, then you can probably guess what a Trojan virus does.  A Trojan masquerades itself as a useful program or is a payload (addition) to a real program.  Once on the system, the Trojan will allow a hacker remote access to a system.  A Trojan can also be part of a botnet.
  • Worm – a worm is a virus that replicates itself through a computer network and by itself does not do anything to the infected computer.  The only real damage the worm does is the resources it takes up replicating itself.  A worm may also include a payload that performs other unwanted functions.  A recent worm that got a lot of attention was Conflicker.
  • Spyware – you can probably guess what this type of virus does?  Spyware attempts to record various actions performed on a computer.  For example typing the password to your bank account (key logger), taking screenshots, ect.!  Of course spyware tries to maintain a low profile and remain hidden on your system.
  • Adware – like spyware you can probably guess what this type of virus does; adware displays advertising on your system.  These ads are usually displayed in a internet browser popup, without your permission of course and usually advertises questionable products or services!
  • Scareware – I have already mentioned this type of virus a few times on this blog and in fact have several blog post devoted entirely to this virus type.  Probably the most common scareware type is the fake anti-virus program.  Scareware is designed to play on a person’s fears, especially when it comes to viruses.
  • Rootkit – this is probably one of the absolute worst type of viruses.  Rootkits are capable of hiding not only from the user, but also from the operating system.  For example a rootkit .exe may be located in C:\Windows, but according the Windows operating system the file will not exist even though it is actually there.  Rootkits are often used for hacking purposes and gaining information or control over a system.
  • Malware – not really a virus type but more of a general term to describe all types of viruses and includes all the above mentioned virus types.  By definition malware is programmed code or scripts that are designed to destroy, steal, and gain or deny access to a computer system,.


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