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Types of Computer Viruses and How to Identify Them.

In today’s article, we will focus on the importance of identifying the correct type of computer virus and making sure that your Antivirus solution protects you against these type of threats.

Types of computer viruses and how to identify them or what are the most common online threats. We will explain what can each type of virus do to your computer and how can a viral infection affect your personal data.

First off let’s see what is a computer virus.


Types of computer viruses and how to identify them

What is a Computer Virus?

A computer virus is a piece of software (computer program) which intents to cause harm.

Any code to hack, steal data, bypass access controls, or to cause harm to or compromise a system is a virus.

Now let us take a closer look at the most common types of malware/viruses. These are the most common types of computer viruses that exist in the online environment today.

Types of computer viruses and how to identify them



A piece of malware specially designed to track and spy on the user. Spyware can often include activity trackers, keystroke collection, and data capture. 

In order to overcome security measures, spyware often changes security settings. Spyware often bundles itself with legitimate software or with other types of malware such as Trojan horses (discussed below). 


An advertising-supported piece of software designed to automatically deliver ads on the target’s computer. Adware installs itself with some versions of legitimate software. They design adware to only deliver advertisements but it is also common for adware to bundle itself with spyware.



Unwanted pop-ups appearing on your screen while browsing online? Check out our 'how to remove adware from your computer' free guide. 



From the word robot, a bot is a malware designed to automatically perform an action, usually in the online environment. While most bots can be harmless, one increasing use of malicious bots is represented by botnets.

Bots can infect several computers then wait quietly for commands provided by the attacker. This is how a botnet (bot network) can operate.


This malware is designed to hold a computer system or the data it contains captive until a payment is made. Ransomware usually works by encrypting data in the computer with a key unknown to the user. Some other versions of ransomware can take advantage of specific system vulnerabilities to lock down the system. Ransomware can spread by a downloaded file or some software type of vulnerability.



This malware is created to persuade the user to take a specific action based on fear. Scareware forges pop-up windows that resemble operating system dialogue windows.

These windows convey forged messages stating the system is at risk or needs the execution of a specific program to return to normal operation. In reality, no problems were assessed or detected and if the user agrees and clears the mentioned program to execute, his or her system will be infected with malware.


This malware is designed to modify the operating system to create a backdoor. Attackers then use the back door to access the computer remotely. Most rootkits take advantage of software vulnerabilities to perform privilege escalation and modify system files.

It is also common for rootkits to modify system forensics and monitoring tools, making them very hard to detect.

If a rootkit infects a computer, the computer can only be fixed after you reinstall the Operating System.


This type of computer virus is malicious executable code that is attached to other installable files, often legitimate programs. Most viruses require end-user activation and can activate at a specific time or date.

Viruses can be harmless and simply display a picture, shut down the computer or they can be destructive, such as those that modify or delete data. In order to avoid detection, computer viruses are also programmed to mutate.

Most viruses nowadays spread by USB drives, optical disks, network shares, or email.


Trojan horse  

We all know the Trojan horse tale, however, not all of us know what a trojan horse means in computer language.

A Trojan horse is malware that carries out malicious operations under the guise of the desired operation. This malicious code exploits the privileges of the user that runs it.  A Trojan horse differs from a virus because it binds itself to non-executable files.

You can find Trojans viruses in image files, audio files or games.



A worm type of virus is a malicious code that replicates himself by exploiting vulnerabilities in a network. Worms usually slow down networks. While a virus requires a host program to run, worms can run by themselves.

Other than the initial infection, they no longer require user participation. Upon host infection, the worm spreads very quickly over the network. Worms share similar patterns. They all have an enabling vulnerability, a way to propagate themselves, and they all contain a payload.

Worms are responsible for some of the most devastating attacks on the Internet.


Man-In-The-Middle (MitM) 

MitM allows the attacker to take control over a device without the user’s knowledge. As a result, with that level of access, the attacker can intercept and capture user information before sending it to its intended destination.

“Man in the middle” attacks are often and widely used to steal financial sensitive data and information.

Many malware and techniques exist to provide attackers with MitM capabilities. Ask your Antivirus solution provided if they can prevent such attacks.



Man-In-The-Mobile (MitMo) 

Man in the mobile is a type of attack that takes control of a mobile device. The attacker uses the device to collect sensitive information from the victim.

Zeus is an example of an exploit with “man in the mobile” capabilities, that allows attackers quietly to capture 2-step verification SMS messages sent to users.


Different types of computer viruses are rising on a daily basis. Therefore, how to identify them is simply because each virus will behave differently. Let us know your opinions in the comment section below.


One comment


    March 25, 2018

    Wow i didn t know there are so many types of viruses

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