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Interview with a Virus Interview with a virus - The different types

A Guide to understanding the different types of virus'

PC-Cillin explanation of a Virus A virus is a malicious piece of code designed exclusively to disrupt or damage your computer and data. A firewall will not protect against viruses, a virus attack is a different type of threat.

It is important that you run good anti-virus software and keep it up to date with the latest virus updates. The rapid spread of new viruses make the need to regularly upgrade your anti-virus software with the latest upgrades from the manufacturer even more critical.

Types of Viruses:

There are a number of different types of viruses. Understanding how they typically spread, and what kind of damage they can do is an important part of understanding how to protect yourself from them.

Differnet types of virusesSimple Virus

This type of virus works by attaching itself to a program file, and is activated when you launch that program. The virus then takes control of your computer, attaches itself to another program file, and the cycle continues.

Explanation of a virusEncrypted Virus

Every virus is a piece of program code, or a specific sequence of data. This sequence is known as a signature. Virus-scanning software is programmed to look for these signatures. In an encrypted virus this signature is scrambled, making it difficult for virus scanning software to detect.

Protect yourself from virus'Polymorphic Virus

As with the encrypted virus, creators of polymorphic viruses encrypt the virus' signature. What makes this type of virus so difficult to detect, however, is that the encryption routine used to de-scramble the encryption is also encrypted.

Macro Virus

"Macro viruses" are like mini-programs that actually run inside of other programs. Programs like Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel have the ability to run scripts, called macros, that automate tasks within the program. Macro viruses are scripts that are written only to do damage. They are easy to write and because so many people use the programs they affect, they spread very quickly.

Trojan Horse

Like the legendary Trojan Horse of Greek mythology, this type of virus is actually a destructive program disguised as a benign program, like a screensaver for example. It does its damage when it is executed, typically stealing passwords or spreading viruses.


Unlike a true virus, which needs users and usually their email to spread from computer to computer, a worm is self-propagating. Because of this, a worm can spread to hundreds of thousands of computers in an incredibly short time, doing substantial damage as it does. Not only can a worm attach itself to every email address in your Microsoft Outlook address book, it can also stick to certain types of files on your computer which, when opened, will start the whole process again.

The combination of firewall and antivirus software will provide you with the protection you need when you are connected to the Internet. Many software packages are available in bundles that offer both a firewall and antivirus protection, such as Norton Internet Security or PC-Cillin IS (internet security). These packages will often include other software as well, such as email spam protection or parental control.

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