Viruses are a clear and present threat to all commercial computer systems and can be costly to your business if allowed to take control. One of the most complicated factors of computer viruses is that they can enter your computer systems and spread through several means, making it difficult to protect your data.
Alongside this, many types of malware disguise themselves as perfectly harmless links, websites and software, making it easy to avoid detection. However, knowing how computer viruses spread throughout your system can be a key tool in virus protection.
In this blog, we explain all the most common ways that computer viruses can enter your computer and provide the best tips for avoiding this to protect your computers.
What Are Computer Viruses?
Before we explain how computer viruses can infiltrate systems, let’s explore what a computer virus is. A computer virus is a form of malicious code designed to damage your computer and operating systems.
Much like a biological virus, computer viruses work by invading your computer system, corrupting and destroying data as it spreads. The impacts of computer viruses can vary from simply slowing down your computer by overloading it to stealing your data for identity theft and financial gain or deleting files.
There are three primary types of computer viruses. These are known as:
- Macro-viruses: Macro-viruses are embedded into a programming script, meaning users open the document and allow the virus to spread throughout their system.
- Boot record viruses: Boot record viruses typically target infected floppy disks, allowing them to spread to any device it comes into contact with. Boot record viruses are extremely hard to spot, as they can remain dormant.
- File infectors: File infectors use standard .com and .exe files and store malicious code. When the user runs a compromised file, this then spreads the file throughout the system, leaving personal data vulnerable to theft.
The Most Common Ways Viruses Get Into Computers
Here are the most common ways computer viruses infect commercial computer systems:
One of the most common ways hackers infiltrate computer systems is through malicious downloads. This refers to web-based software available to download onto your computer, infected with malicious code that, when launched, will spread throughout your computer system.
Malicious downloads can be anywhere on the internet, including in apps, documents sent from disguised hackers via email, web-page plug-ins and much more. This is why it’s imperative to avoid downloading any content from the internet when you can’t verify the source or your operating system flags it as potentially dangerous.
Infected Hard Drives
Infected hard drives can spread viruses known as boot sector viruses. These viruses loan onto floppy disks and USB hard drives and spread when entered onto a computer. After this, the user will launch their computer and immediately prompt the virus to begin running.
The boot sector virus will then impair the basic functions of your computer as it targets specific systems within your computer that control start-ups and program launches.
Phishing emails are a common threat to commercial services. These are malicious emails disguised as harmless call-to-action emails by cybercriminals. They use social engineering to spark fear in their victim, prompting them to click a malicious link. This link then prompts the victim to input their credentials, such as banking information, or the link downloads malicious software onto the victim’s computer system.
Phishing emails are a particularly dangerous virus infiltration method as they can be used to spark ransomware attacks, conduct identity theft or cause widespread disruption to entire companies. An example of phishing email can include an email disguised as correspondence from the victim’s bank, prompting them to log in to their online platforms and insert their confidential information.
Malicious web pages refer to websites that attempt to install dangerous malware and viruses onto your system without you knowing. Sometimes, these pages can conduct what is known as a ‘drive-by download.’
This is when the website begins to install software without your knowledge or consent, preventing you from stopping the installation process. Often, malicious websites look entirely legitimate but can be a hacker’s way of installing a virus onto your computer that steals your personal information.
Out of Date Software
Ignoring software update prompts can be a significant risk, as date software can allow harmful viruses to enter your computer operating systems. Out-of-date software can have security vulnerabilities that are easy for cybercriminals to exploit. Recent updates to the software can address any bugs or vulnerabilities, protecting you from viruses when you run programs or visit sites.
Online Messaging Platforms
Any platform that can share downloadable drives and programs has the potential to be a platform for viruses. A common way that cybercriminals spread viruses is by sending links via virtual messaging platforms and social media.
These links can even come from your contacts on your friend lists, but it’s important to remember that these accounts may be compromised, and you should never click on suspicious links, especially from unexpected messages. Always verify any links with the sender before running the risk.
How To Protect Your Computer Against Viruses
While the sheer amount of platforms for viruses to infiltrate your systems may be distressing, there are some easy ways to protect computer programs and your sensitive commercial information. Here are some ways to protect your computer against viruses:
Keep Your Antivirus Software Up To Date
One of the best ways to limit system vulnerabilities and viruses is to keep your antivirus protection up-to-date. Updated antivirus protection will be able to address new and advancing viruses and malware, as well as patch holes in their security plans that could increase the risk of a virus attack.
Using a desktop support service like Tech Masters can help keep your antivirus software updated and running smoothly to protect your computer at all times.
Use Managed IT Services
Running a business is tough, but as companies adapt to modern security threats, you must upgrade how you approach your IT management.
Using managed IT services from Tech Masters can optimize your security management, offering 24/7 monitoring of your systems and helping you to identify potential vulnerabilities and emerging threats.
Managed IT services offer a proactive approach to cyber security and allow you to prevent attacks instead of responding to them. Reach out to Tech Masters IT company in Edmonton today to discover more about managed IT services.
Don’t Open Any Email Links or Attachments
A simple way that you and your employees can avoid virus infiltration is to avoid opening links from unverified sources or spam and phishing emails. If a sender in your email inbox sends a drive or downloadable attachment, verify this before clicking the download button. Sometimes, the sender’s account may be compromised, so it’s always best to check!
Use Pop-Up Blockers
Malicious websites can sometimes contain infected ads that install viruses and computer worms onto your system. To avoid this, consider using pop-up blockers which block ads to prevent any unintentional installation of programs and prevent infected ads from infecting your system.
Trust Managed IT Support in Edmonton From Tech Masters To Protect Your Computer Systems From Harmful Viruses
Don’t let viruses impair your business. By taking preventative action with the help of an IT support company in Edmonton with Tech Masters, you can avoid significant disruption and save money for your business.
At Tech Masters, we make it our number one mission to protect your commercial IT systems. Our in-depth monitoring for unusual activity, centrally managed virus protection programs and updated workstations can help you avoid even the most hard-to-detect viruses. Get in touch today to start protecting your valuable systems now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to your frequently asked questions about computer viruses:
How Do Computer Viruses Go Undetected?
The most common way viruses go undetected is because they’re new or emerging viruses. Mostly, modern virus protection software will be able to identify computer viruses, so if the code slips through the net, the chances are it’s a new type of code.
What Are The Biggest Virus Warning Signs?
The biggest virus warning signs include:
- Suddenly running out of space
- An extremely slow computer
- Lots of sudden pop-up windows
- Error messages you don’t recognize
- Strange emails from your email address
Should I Trust Virus Warnings From Websites?
You should never trust any virus warnings from any providers other than your virus protection service on your desktop. Many malicious websites will have pop-ups telling users that their computers have a virus when this is not the case. This is just a way for hackers to collect information or install malware onto your device.