Eli5 How do computer ciruses work? What exactly are they?


Obviously there is meant to be a V instead of a C, but due to current times, this post got flagged as not allowed.

In: Technology

A virus is just a computer program that replicates itself with help from you, the user. It’s kind of like a biological virus (in fact, that’s why they call it a “virus”)

This really depends on the type of virus and the intent behind the person using it.

There are some viruses that are simply meant to harm the end user – You download something and it immediately commits actions towards preventing your system from functioning.

Another virus might just sit in your processes, capture keystrokes/emails/passwords, and send them to the hacker.

Other virus can remain dormant until called. This is how a DDoS will gain some of the more massive amounts of bandwidth usage on the target. The hacker – who could own between 100 and 1 000 000 pieces of software installed on other peoples computers or servers – will send a command to all of them simultaneously to make a connection or a request to a single point and drown it.

Most viruses are downloade by user error or by a background download from a website (The latter is now rarely the case with more secure browsers and extensions that notify you or prevent such actions).

The most talked about virus we have now is called ransomware. It freezes a system on installation and requires a key to unencrypt, usually provided by ransomer at a cost in bitcoin or more untraceable coins like monero.

That being said, new viruses appear and are found in the wild, the internet community is notified, and anti-virus software definitions are released to the masses. Once your anti-virus has the right definitions, it can look at running processes and files to identify known threats.

Staying safe online is really important folks. Teach your kids, yo.

A virus is just computer software, it works the same way any other software works.

Viruses are a type of malware – software that is developed with a malicious intent. The main traits that distinguish a virus from other malware is that it must be 1) self-replicating (able to spread to other computers), and 2) designed to disrupt normal computer operation or damage data. Hence they are named for their biological counterpart which share the same traits.

Other types of malware include ransomware (renders user data inaccessible or threatens to expose it unless a ransom is paid), spyware (monitors your activity, usually to send somewhere online) or adware (displays unwanted ads or other web browsing shenanigans).