How Does a PC Virus Work?

Surfing the web, using email, and gaming online are things you have probably done at some point. Most do them on a daily basis. Everyone has heard the term “computer virus” but don’t necessarily understand what it means.

A computer virus is often a hidden file that is just waiting to reproduce within programs you use daily. Malicious programs known as worms, Trojans, Malware, and Spyware are varieties of viruses that can infect a computer and the internet at large.

These infections can spread rapidly throughout the web. It only takes one click of a button to receive an infection that can destroy your computer, corrupt files, cause identity theft and wreak havoc upon millions of computers.

What Is the Definition of a Virus?

What exactly is a computer virus, and how does it work? First you must understand that there are several types of infections that may harm your computer. Each of these may be spread in a variety of ways.

Viruses are relatively small pieces of software, but can cause a lot of damage. These infections attach themselves to actual programs. For example a virus can attach itself to any program on your computer. Every time the program runs, the virus runs as well.

The infection may then reproduce itself each and every time that program is run, thus attaching itself to every document made in that program. Unknowingly if you send this document through the Internet to others and they open it, boom they have just received the virus too.


This form of virus’s purpose is to obtain data about a computers user. This can come from an email attachment like those funny photos or videos your friends send you that hundreds of other computers have already viewed.

This program will monitor and report all actions of a specific computer to companies who will send you that stuff called spam. Be aware that many “free” downloads contain Spyware.


Trojans are a bit different. These infections look like one thing, but contain the code that causes a virus. The Trojan may be hidden within a game for example, when you open the game; the Trojan is released into your computer system. The best way to avoid a Trojan is to use an antivirus program to scan each file before you open it.


Worms take advantage of problems in the security of your computer. It uses computer networks to travel. It scans from one machine to the next until it finds one with a security hole similar to the one it just breached. It will then replicate itself from there and continue to spread.


The term “Malware” is comprised of the words malicious and software. This is software specifically developed to cause damage to a computer. Malware will infiltrate a computer system without the knowledge of the owner; no consent has to be made for it to spread.

Avoid Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are not impossible to avoid. In fact, it’s easy and free. Free antivirus programs include Avast, Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and Destroy and a few others. Choosing the right one to protect your computer is as simple as knowing what you do on a daily basis. Most people would do well to use Avast for daily protection and scan at least once per month with both Avast and Malwarebytes.

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