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Are Computer Viruses Still a Thing | See The Evolution of Computer Viruses

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, computer viruses have long been a concern for users worldwide.

From the infamous Melissa virus in 1999 to the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, these malicious programs have caused widespread damage and financial loss.  However, with advancements in cybersecurity and heightened awareness among users, one may question, are computer viruses still a thing.

In this article, we’re going to explore the current state of computer viruses and their impact on individuals, businesses, and society as a whole.  By examining recent trends, emerging threats, and preventive measures in place, we will determine whether computer viruses remain a significant concern or if they have become relics of the past.

Let’s find out.

What is a Computer Virus

What is a computer virus - Are Computer Viruses Still a Thing

In simple terms, a virus is a malicious program designed to replicate itself and infect computers without the user’s knowledge or consent.  These viruses can come in various forms, from harmless pranks to destructive attacks that can wipe out entire systems.

Just like a biological virus, a computer virus infects your computer system, causing harm and disrupting its normal functioning.  Computer viruses are created by hackers with the intention of gaining unauthorized access to personal information (your data), damaging files, or even taking control of your device.

As I mentioned before, viruses come in various forms and can be introduced into your system through infected emails, downloads from untrusted websites, or even when you connect your device to an infected external storage device.  Once a virus gets access to your systems, they start multiplying and infecting other files or programs on your computer without you being aware that any of it it is taking place.

Some viruses may lay dormant for weeks or months before triggering their harmful activities.  Protecting yourself against these threats is crucial in today’s highly interconnected world, which will be discussed later in this article.

Despite advancements in cybersecurity measures, computer viruses continue to pose significant risks.  Both on a personal and professional level.

The Evolution of Computer Virus

Computer virus evolution - Are Computer Viruses Still a Thing

Computer viruses have come a long way since their humble beginnings, transforming from simple programs into sophisticated threats that can wreak havoc on our digital lives.

In the early days, computer viruses were relatively harmless, often created as experiments by curious programmers.

The idea of a computer virus came about in theory from a famous mathematician in the 1940s by the name of John von Neumann.  He published an article titled “Theory of Self-Reproducing Automa”, which was about the comparison of the human nervous system and the computer, and whether a code could cause a computer to stop operating.

This lent itself to early viruses such as The Creeper Program, The Rabbit Virus, and The Brain to be created.  All were created out of curiosity to see if a code could be created to self-replicate, and the different speeds it could do so.

These early viruses were much simpler compared to what hackers are creating these days.  

Once it was concluded that a code could self-replicate, programmers started creating viruses for more personal reasons like preventing others from illegally copying their software and other prevention mechanisms.

Virus infections back then were more on a local level where a floppy disk would get infected.  That infection would then get passed on to infect local files on the computer that floppy disk was loaded into.  That computer would then be considered out of commission until the user figured out how to get it fixed.

But as computer networks became larger and faster, connecting more computers together, hackers became more witty and sophisticated with the type of viruses they would create.  The LoveLetter Virus, for instance, is a more modern-day virus that spread via the Internet.

Created in 2000, The LoveLetter Virus depended on emails to go around and create havoc.  Its sole purpose was to wipe out all the files on a victim’s computer and create replicas of itself and also corrupted the contact list of the victim’s email account.

Years later, the Heartbleed Bug of 2014 targeted servers across the Internet.

At its core, Heartbleed exploited a flaw in OpenSSL.

OpenSSL is a commonly used encryption technology designed to protect sensitive data on websites.  This bug allowed hackers to potentially access usernames, passwords, credit card details, and other confidential information without leaving any trace behind.  The reason it garnered so much attention was because OpenSSL is widely used by popular websites and services which meant that millions of people were at risk.

There were many other smaller viruses over the years that operated similarly to the ones mentioned here, they just didn’t do as much damage.

Today’s viruses are designed to exploit vulnerabilities in our operating systems and applications, allowing hackers to gain unauthorized access to our personal information or even take control of our devices.  They can be delivered through email attachments, malicious websites, or infected downloads, making it easier than ever for them to infiltrate our systems undetected.

The Impact of Computer Viruses on Society

Computer virus impact on society - Are Computer Viruses Still a Thing

In today’s digital age, where technology plays a central role in our lives, computer viruses have had a significant impact on society, which should be of no surprise based on the information we have provided so far.

Computer viruses were created with the intention to disrupt computer systems, steal sensitive information, and take possession of our data.  As a result, individuals, businesses, and even governments have faced various challenges due to these cyber threats.

The first negative impact has been financial.  Computer viruses have caused financial losses for individuals and organizations alike.

From personal bank accounts being hacked to large corporations losing valuable data or intellectual property.  The damages of these attacks have been devastating, and have cost millions of dollars over many years.

Additionally, on an individual level, society has seen an increase in identity theft cases as hackers use viruses to gain unauthorized access to personal information such as credit card information, or social security numbers to steal someone’s information.

The second negative impact is that of our time and our level of productivity

Here’s what I mean.

When our computers become infected with a virus, or other malware they often slow down or crash altogether.  Leaving us with a subpar-performing computer to use.  Instead of spending time using the computer for what we needed it for, we’re now spending that time troubleshooting our computer.

The reality is that an infected system becomes sluggish, making simple tasks like opening files or browsing the internet frustratingly slow.

Not only is this a waste of valuable time, but it also leads to frustration and decreased motivation for work.  Eventually, your computer will start to experience frequent crashes due to the virus infection.  This can and does result in data loss or corruption of files (virus attaching itself to other files), which further hampers productivity.

Again, your time is being spent troubleshooting the issue and trying to recover data, instead of doing productive work.

Modern Day Cyber Security Measures

Given that viruses and malware have been creating so many issues for users alike in today’s interconnected world, cyber security has become more crucial than ever before.

With the increasing number of online threats and data breaches, it is essential to implement some proactive modern-day cyber security measures to safeguard your digital presence.  From individuals to organizations, everyone needs to be aware of the potential risks involved with being online and take proactive steps toward protecting themselves.

Here are some tips that we recommend.

Strong Password Management

Gone are the days when a simple password would suffice.  Nowadays, it is recommended to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters for added complexity and security.  It is also recommended that you change your passwords at least once a year, even if it’s changing just a few characters in that password.

This makes it harder for hackers to figure out or guess what your password could be.

Two-Factor Authentication

Additionally, enabling two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security by requiring an additional verification step beyond just entering a password.  This could be something like receiving a text with a unique set of numbers or using an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator, or other authenticator apps and software.

Another important measure is keeping software and devices up-to-date with the latest patches and updates.

Anti-Virus Software

This is probably the first measure to take. 

Having an antivirus of any kind installed on your computer in my opinion should be a prerequisite to getting access to the Internet.  That’s how important it is to have an anti-virus installed on your computer.

Anti-virus software will act as a shield against viruses, malware, and any other malicious programs, in real-time, that proves to be detrimental to your computer and overall organization.  So get an anti-virus software installed on your computer today, if you don’t already have one.

Debating which anti-virus software is the best one to get, is beyond the scope of this article.  They all do a good job, so it’s best to get one and then upgrade to another, at a later time, if needed.  Recommended anti-virus software to start with is Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender.

There are many more measures you can take to ensure cyber security.  However, these three will ensure you’re on solid ground.

Conclusion

So, are computer viruses still a thing?  Absolutely they are very much so a thing, and still wreaking havoc among computer users worldwide. 

In fact, it’s even more prevalent today, because of the vast computer network that we all love and use every day, the Internet.  The Internet today creates opportunities for everyone, both good and bad.  There are tons of opportunities that the Internet has provided for us to run businesses, be connected, and conduct all sorts of legal commerce.

It also provides a ton of opportunities for hackers as well.

The more sophisticated our online world becomes, the more sophisticated viruses and malware will become.  That’s just the nature of the online space, and that will always be the case.  Our best bet is to always be proactive in combating viruses and malware by preventing them from happening.

Following the tips provided in the Security Measures section above will keep you one step ahead of hackers, such as having viable anti-virus software installed.


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Advanced-PCs, computer, Computer Network, Computer security, computer virus, Internet, internet security, malware


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