Computer viruses are one of the most destructive types of malware. Like most types of malware, they can cause performance issues like slow download speeds, random reboots and screen freezes, and some of them can delete or steal your data as well. Computer viruses, however, are particularly destructive because of their ability to spread.

All computer viruses can spread. That’s essentially what distinguishes them from other types of malware. If a virus infects your computer, it may spread to other devices on the same network. Therefore, you won’t be dealing with a single infection. As the virus spreads from device to device, you’ll be dealing with multiple infections. How do computer viruses spread exactly?

Software or File Hijacking

Most computer viruses spread through hijacked software or files. Viruses themselves are software; they are simply malicious software that’s designed to spread while causing some form of harm to the victim. To spread, though, a computer virus must typically hijack a piece of software or file.

Hijacking means that the virus is embedded or otherwise included in the software or file. You may think that you are downloading a legitimate piece of software or file, only to later discover that it contained a virus. Upon downloading the software or file, the virus will infect your computer.

Transferring the Hijacked Software or File

If your computer is infected with a virus, the virus may spread to other devices on the same network if you transfer the hijacked software or file. Sending the hijacked software or file to another device on the same network as your computer, for instance, will often result in that device being infected with the virus. The virus will then replicate itself after landing on the other device, thus creating an entirely new infection. There are many different types of computer viruses, but most of them spread through hijacked software or files.

Common Vectors for Computer Viruses

As previously mentioned, computer viruses are spread through hijacked software and files. Nonetheless, they use different vectors for infection. A vector is a channel or method by which hijacked software and files make their way onto a computer.

Email is one of the most common vectors for computer viruses. If you use email, you should be conscious of downloading file attachments, which may contain a computer virus. Websites are another vector for computer viruses. Websites can be hacked, after which they can be coded to serve computer viruses to unsuspecting visitors.

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