Do you know: “I Love you” is a virus?

By Muhammad Umar

Before we get an answer to the above question, let’s first define what a virus is. How does it infect your computer, how does it start and how we can stay safe?

A computer virus is a malicious code that replicates itself to another program, to the computer boot sector or to a document and changes how a computer works. A virus needs an intentional or unintentional click to spread, whist a ‘worm’ does this job on its own. Both virus and worm are known as malware. Viruses need different coding for Windows, Apple IOs, Android (which cover most of our cell phones) and other operating systems.

The term ‘computer virus’ was used in 1983 for the first time when a student at the University of California wrote a paper on it, And the first ever ‘friendly computer virus’, known as BRAIN, was a creation of two brothers, Amjad and Basit, aged respectively 17 and 24, from Lahore, Pakistan. They did this in 1986 by trying some basic coding to see if their CDs were being copied / pirated illegally in the world. In 1971, a virus called CREEPER was generated by Robert Thomas, who was an engineer. Elk Clone is considered the first ever Apple virus, created by a 15 year-old boy.

Virus can be downloaded along with email-attachments and misleading internet advertisement. It can enter a system via floppy disk, Data traveller, CD, DVD etc. by copying/opening an infected file.

A virus can slow down a system, it can display a message on a specific date/time, or it can damage or destroy critical data in a system. Damage caused by a virus can be different in a personal or in a corporate system. Some famous types of viruses: Browser Hijacker, File Infector, Macro Virus, Polymorphic Virus, Multipartite Virus, Direct Action Virus, Boot Sector Virus, and Web Scripting Virus.

The Anna Kournikova worm, ILOVEYOU, the Melissa virus, the Blaster Worm, Netsky and Sasser, and Storm worm are considered the worst viruses of all times. The most recent virus, as I am writing this article, is ‘RAT-Remote Access Trojan’, dated September 2017.

ILOVEYOU virus originated from the Philippines. This affected tens of millions of PCs via an email attachment in the year 2000.

When you find out that your PC is taking too long upon starting, is showing Ads, is makes similar named files or crashes during work, it might be infected by a virus.

How can we stay away of this all?

We need to install good updated antivirus software. We should avoid removable media or we should install a USB-scanner so that any device attached to the PC can’t make any such activity. While using the Internet, never click on misleading Ads, and use ADBLOCKER for browsers.

If in any case, you already have been infected:

  1. Enter Safe Mode, disconnect your PC from the Internet and don’t use it until your PC is clean.
  2. Delete temporary files.
  3. Download malware scanners.
  4. Run a scan with Malwarebytes.