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The focus of this category is on antivirus software, or software designed to detect, prohibit, and/or remove viruses and other forms of malware, as well as other security software.

Cybersecurity organizations, agencies, or informational sites should be listed in the Security category. A link is provided below. This category is specific to software.

Typically, a computer virus attaches itself to another software program and reproduces itself without the computer user's consent, attaching itself to other useful programs installed on the same computer, spreading to other computers. Although a computer virus is not necessarily harmful to the computers they are installed on, they certainly can be. Some of the more destructive ones can wipe out everything stored on the computer.

Computer viruses include at least two basic parts, or functions. To be a computer virus, there must be a search routine that locates new targets for infection, which may include new programs or disks that the virus has access to. Secondly, every computer virus must have the ability to copy itself into the programs or disks that the search routine locates. Generally, both the search and copy routines will be simple, since more sophisticated routines will take up more space, and would be more likely to cause unusual disk activity, subsequently being more vulnerable to detection.

In addition to search and copy routines, computer viruses are likely to include various anti-detection routines, which may be as simple as ensuring that the date on a file remains the same after a virus infects it, or complex routines that disguise viruses, tricking antivirus programs into believing that they are not there. Some viruses have been created with the ability to turn the antivirus program itself against the computer content.

Most early viruses were designed to be harmless, more as pranks than anything else, but today's viruses tend to be more nefarious. They may include destructive routines designed to wipe out data on any disks they infect. Others are designed to take over the host computer, as is the case with ransomware.

A virus can be written to infect any type of code, even programming code that needs to be compiled or interpreted before it can be executed. Thus, a virus can infect source code, batch files, textfiles, a database, or the markup code on a webpage.

Although viruses can be written in any programming language, the most successful ones are written in assembly language.

Most computer viruses target the Microsoft Windows operating system, but this is only because Windows dominates the computer market. Any type of computer system or OS is potentially susceptible to viruses and malware.

Antivirus software was developed to detect, isolate, or remove computer viruses, and that continues to be the focal point of antivirus software, although most antivirus programs are also designed to deal with other types of malware, which may include adware, backdoors, browser hijackers, keyloggers, spyware, trojans, ransomware, worms, and other unwanted intrusions and security issues. Some products include protection from infected URLs, spam, phishing attacks, privacy threats, and various online scams.

Antivirus and anti-malware software is the focus of topics in this category, whether these are comprehensive software suites or smaller programs designed to assist with only one or a couple of these issues. Other computer security software may also be appropriate for this category.






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