When it comes to fighting viruses and other forms of infections that can cause damage to your computer or files it helps to know some terminology to keep yourself aware of what to look for when protecting your computer.

Here is a listing of common virus related words and terms that you can learn to help your understanding of how viruses work.

Attachments - Files added to an outgoing email and downloaded with an incoming e-mail

Blended Threat - Combines characteristics of viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, and other malicious code with server and Internet vulnerabilities to spread itself.

Boot Sector Virus – A virus that affects a section of a floppy or hard disk that contains operating system. Each time you start your computer with an infected disk, the virus can spread


Bug - A programming error in a software program that can have unwanted side effects such as security issues.

Client computer - A computer that runs a client program.

Disabled - A status indicating that a program, job, or scan is not available.

Distribution - Measures how quickly a threat is able to spread.

Download - To transfer data from one computer to another. Usually over the internet.

Encrypted Virus - A virus that uses encryption to hide itself from virus scanners.

Exploit - A program or technique that takes advantage of a vulnerability in software to attack its host.

Heuristics - designed to detect previously unknown viruses based on known virus attributes or characteristics.

Hoax – Hoaxes usually arrive in the form of an e-mail designed to tick people into thinking there is some sort of security risk.

Intrusion Detection - A service that monitors system events used to warn about unauthorized system access.

Macro virus - A virus hidden within an application that must be executed in order to execute the virus.

Master Boot Record - The first logical sector on a disk containing the partition table and master boot loader.

Network – A number of computers connected together to share information and hardware.

Payload - The malicious activity that the virus performs to the host.

Payload trigger - The condition that causes the virus to activate its payload.

Phishing - The fraudulent process of attempting to obtain personal information such as usernames, passwords and credit card information by masquerading as someone else or some other company via a fake email, website or other electronic correspondence.

Polymorphic Virus - A virus that can change itself when it replicates to avoid detection.

Port - An interface through which data are sent and received.

Quarantine – A way to isolate files that may contain a virus so that the files cannot be opened or executed.

Threat assessment - The severity rating of a virus.

Trojan Horse – A virus that portrays itself as something other than a virus upon execution.

Upload - To send a file from one computer to another.

Variants - New strains of viruses that use some of the code from other viruses.

Virus - program or code that replicates itself onto other files and can affect many different things such as other program, files, documents etc, and cause various degrees of damage.

Virus Definitions - Software that identifies viruses by checking files against a profile of each known virus.

Worm - A program that makes and distributes copies of itself.

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