Computer viruses work in different ways. By definition, any malware that’s able to replicate its malicious code is considered a computer virus. Computer viruses essentially make copies of themselves so that they can spread while causing mayhem on infected drives and devices. Most computer viruses, however, leverage a search routine.
Overview of Search Routines
A search routine is an automated process in which a computer virus searches for new infection targets.
Computer viruses spread via a vector. A vector is simply a mechanism by which a computer virus spreads. After a computer virus has found its way onto your device, it will typically execute a search routine as its vector.
During the search routine, the computer virus will search for new infection targets. Computer viruses can spread automatically by replicating their malicious code. But they don’t create this duplicate code in random locations. Instead, most computer viruses target specific files, disks or other devices. Computer viruses will execute a search routine to find new infection targets such as these.
Alternatives to Search Routines
While most computer viruses do, in fact, use a search routine to find new infection targets, others may use a different method.
There are computer viruses that spread their malicious code in the same location where they are run. If you unknowingly open and run a computer virus on your computer’s storage drive, it may spread its malicious code on this storage drive.
Search routines are different. If a computer virus uses a search routine, it will perform a search. After infecting your computer, the virus will search for new infection targets.
The Aftermath of Search Routines
Following a search routine is a trigger. Computer viruses spread via a vector — a search routine is a type of vector — after which they’ll execute a trigger. A trigger is a set of conditions that activates a computer virus. For a computer virus to cause harm, it must execute a trigger.
Triggers are also known as logic bombs. Most computer viruses are harmless until they execute a trigger. Only after executing a trigger will a computer virus carry out the malicious activities for which it was designed.
A search routine is a type of vector in which a computer virus searches for new infection targets. Computer viruses will often spread by using a search routine. They search for new infection targets, and upon accessing them, computer viruses will execute a trigger.