Types of Computer Viruses and Top Tips for Protection

LAST UPDATED: December 16th, 2018

There is no clear-cut way to define all the types of computer viruses in the world without also addressing the sheer quantity of them that are alive and well, or dwindling down, or completely out of circulation – each and every one of them features distinctive elements that  you might begin to understand on a rudimentary level but will render you utterly perplexed with the next one you encounter.

Despite a virus’s status at any given moment, the most prudent computer users will want to be well-versed in the history of computer viruses to achieve an overarching understanding of the capabilities, distinct features, and prowess some viruses may have had over others throughout the years.

It’s of little benefit to computer users to be solely aware of the short list of circulating viruses, which are at this moment, posing negligible dangers to users well equipped with antivirus software and other protective accessories.

However, have a thorough understanding of the brief history of computer viruses will educate computer users immensely. For example, novice users to the computing world may not recall the infamous “Slammer” virus which had all of the power of a digital terrorist army and was able to effectively bring down powerhouse institutions like Google, Bank of America, The U.S. 911 emergency contact system, and even the internet as a whole for fifteen entire minutes.

The viruses we have floating around today are nothing like some of the evil firestorms experienced by the world in years past. Educating yourself on the likes of these notorious viruses serves you in myriad ways.

Primarily, it informs you on a deeply personal and resonating level by giving you a clear-cut idea of the potential viruses hold, the creative means in which they are deployed, and the seemingly insurmountable damage that can occur to any computing user who doesn’t understand the importance of taking preventative, protective measures to safeguard their lives.

Wikipedia even bemoans the fact that compiling a comprehensive list of computer viruses (even a list of the current ones) is made exceedingly difficult due to the many issues involved in naming viruses.

To explain further, the appearance of a new virus onto the cyber scene will result in a collective rush of personnel, including, but not limited to, antivirus software development teams, security advisory and standards organizations, and even reporters for tech magazines to analyze the virus, its potential, and to ultimately give it a name.

What ends up happening (as evidenced time after time in cyber history) is that the virus will receive a name of sorts to be reported to the public, while countless antivirus companies work around the clock to devise powerful and effective countermeasures to quell the attack.

Often, the anti-virus company that has made the most headway in the effort to capture and destroy the virus, also typically end up giving it an altered name – perhaps to align the visibility of their company’s efforts with the antivirus or maybe for other reasons.

Whatever the motivations happen to be, time and again, the entry of new viruses into the cyber world always goes through multiple iterations in the naming – thus making an accurate, historical list of viruses a difficult ordeal indeed.

An odd example highlighting this phenomenon is the “Palyh” virus which was later renamed to “Sobig.n” In this instance, the old name is still commonly used to this day, although cyber analysts state that the quicker the renaming process takes place, the more grounded in place it becomes.  

Internationally renowned company Symantec provides solid numbers on the number of viruses since the early 2000s. According to Symantec, there were 40,000 viruses in the year 2000, 103,000 viruses in 2003, and well over a million viruses existing in 2018.

Fortunately, Symantec also informs us that a very small number of today’s viruses are actually in circulation and are worth self-educating yourself on.

A virus or lists of old viruses that are out of circulation are referred to as a “zoo virus,” while an active and collectively recognized virus is referred to as an “in-the-wild” virus. These are actual professional terms used in the cyber industry.

Quick Knowledge

  1. In-the-wild viruses are ACTIVE VIRUSES and number about a hundred in total and should be recognized
  2. Zoo viruses are Long-ago recognized, destroyed, INACTIVE VIRUSES that make up the long, comprehensive lists (tens of thousands that do not pose any current threat but offer incredible value in cyber technology education.

Would you happen to like our advice for becoming a well-versed, savvy pro at virus lexicon and top-caliber protection techniques? Read through our article detailing the most compelling in-the-wild viruses of interests to businesses, government, and individuals today and check out our accompanying pro tips for protecting all the important data that defines your life.

Then, when you have free time, visit, explore, take notes, and make sure to bookmark the following site “The Wildlist Organization International,” which has been referred to by countless internet denizens as one of the most important websites of all time. MSNBC has even stated that The Wildlist Organization International is generally “regarded as the most authoritative collection of viruses that are running around the Internet.”

With exhaustively detailed lists going back to 1996, this one-of-a-kind document categorizes and describes in detail the earliest viruses of our technological times, including the ones that wielded significant destruction as we came nearer to Y2k. Brimming with research-rich details and copious amounts of research, this site is a true wonder to behold.

The one irony? It’s no longer in operation. However thanks to cool internet technology like the way back machine, we can see the site’s contents in their entirety, with the ultra-detailed listings of virus listings from the 90s and early 2000s right here.

Chiam Patak once uttered some of the truest words ever heard with his quote “If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present and plan properly for the future.”

Honest, prudent, timeless, classic advice that applies to everything in life – not even just viruses, but especially viruses.

Read on below to learn more about the top computer viruses you need to be aware of in 2018 and how to protect yourself in multifaceted fighting techniques like a champion MMA pro!

2018 has yet to come to close. However, there has been an abundance of viruses and hacking attempts that have ultimately defined the year. Symantec has already compiled a running list with currently 42 entries on it. Most are Trojans, four are classified as pure viruses, and five entries make a note of worm-related activity.

The Center for Internet Security has also released a report and accompanying infographic highlighting the top ten threats of 2018 show below.

Center For Internet Security: Virus Breakdown for 2018

Virus nameVirus classVirus features
Emotet Modular Trojan for bankingInfection occurs via email, PDF or Word attachments
Redyms Click-fraud TrojanInfection occurs via download exploitation tactics
NanoCoreRemote Access Trojan


spread via malspam as a malicious Excel XLS spreadsheet. As a RAT, NanoCore can accept commands to download and execute files, visit websites, and add registry keys for persistence
Gh0st Remote Access Trojan


Gh0st creates a backdoor into a device, allowing an attacker to fully control the infected device and infected endpoints
ZeuS/ZbotModular Banking TrojanKeystroke logging compromises credentials at banking websites
CoinMinerTrojanUses PCs to generate Bitcoins and installs software slowing systems down
Mirai Malware Botnet Designed to conduct DDoS attacks after a successful exploit
Ursnif and Dreambot (identical)Banking trojans are known for weaponizing documents and

its web injection attacks

Recently upgraded to include TLS callbacks in order to thwart antimalware and antivirus software


WannaCryRansomware WormUses the EternalBlue exploit method to spread.
Kovter TrojanActs as a click fraud malware or a ransomware downloader




Did I forget to mention that while you should learn the background and distinctive details about some of the old-school powerhouse viruses that shook the cyber world, you should also definitely be well versed in the assorted types of viruses in today’s tech world?

Yes, believe it or not, a computer virus is not just a dangerous threat to your identity, data, and personal details with a “virus name:” slapped on it. Rather, there are different kinds of viruses, many of which want your identity, data, and personal details regardless of what it is called or how it is classified.

Fear not, ladies and gentlemen! This may begin to feel like school again, but it is very much not. It is life. Your life. The lives of your family, spouses, partners, children, and other loved ones, whose personal details must be safeguarded in the most comprehensive manner you can manage

Computer viruses basically cause threat and harm to identity details and sensitive data on your computer. To get off it, antivirus software is developed to protect personal, financial and most sensitive data.


Your goals thus far:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the top ten viruses for 2018 shown in the pie chart infographic
  2. When time permits, learn about the “vintage viruses” and all the power they beheld. Much of it is extremely interesting
  3. Read on below to become acclimated with the different kinds of viruses meandering around, all trying to ensnare the same things from you: your name, details, finances, passwords, and most of all, your money.

Actual Types of Viruses Used Against Users Like Yourself Today

1. Boot Sector Virus – a recurring virus that does most of its damage in the partitioned storage part of your computer

2. Web Scripting Virus – are transmitted through the clicking of alluring links

3. Browser Hijacker- auto-redirects your homepage to an unsafe site, essentially hijacking your browser

4. Resident Virus – comes in, destroys an array of elements and leaves, with the ability to come back

5. Direct Action Virus. – executed through the downloading of illicit files or attachments and then infects your entire system  

6. Polymorphic Virus – this oddball’s job is to detect the presence of any virus by seeking its coding, changes the coding, and is often difficult to remove

7. File Infector Virus – uses a “file infector: to rewrite all of your files

8. Multipartite Virus – dual-mechanism virus uses single or double payloads to deliver damage

9. Macro Virus. – this virus exploits the user’s details as well as the details of their friends, family, and contacts

The Bottom Line

You might be asking yourself how you are you supposed to protect yourself from so many different kinds of viruses, each with different attack mechanisms and interests. The answer is easy.

There are in fact a scary seemingly countless number of viruses in the world. There are ones we have never heard of, ones that seek to exploit not only our details but the details of our loved ones, ones that weird names and seemingly unreal abilities like being able to run in and out of your system creating havoc as they please.

All this is very true. You need to remember; you didn’t know about all of these viruses before today. At a basic level, you knew about the dangers of viruses, the need to avoid them, and the investments (antivirus protection) you are required to make to protect yourself.

The same remains true here. Just because you are now aware of the immense scope of viruses in existence doesn’t change any element of your protection game.

Keep doing what you’re doing; don’t click on bad links, don’t open suspicious emails, never download anything that you aren’t well familiar with, and most importantly, have your antivirus system setup and in place with your firewall on and be at the ready to practice smart internet behavior.

As a reminder, take a look at the vintage viruses of the last few decades. All of the great historians tend to believe on some level that history repeats itself. Learning about the earliest viruses and their significant impact will do well in serving you in the future by adding dimension to your plan of action in the event of a hacking threat attempt.