A computer virus is a malicious software program that infects computers. Some viruses are harmless invaders that introduce themselves with a nuisance message on the screen. Others damage computer programs, delete files or reformat the hard drive and crash the computer.
The impact of computer viruses is usually not fatally personal and we find it hard to fully appreciate their harmful effects. They are perceived as nuisances that cause work disruption at most and cause minor inconveniences at the least. Most times it is the corporate, not the individual, that is left to grapple with the attendant losses of a computer virus infection.
This however is about to change. Computer viruses are mutating and becoming more personal. Viruses today are now capable of putting illegal content on your computer leading to the risk of being arrested for serious crimes you never committed.
It was recently reported that there is a virus that plants child pornography, or any other type of file, on an innocent user’s computer. These viruses are used by pedophiles who remotely infect and use your computer to store child porn. This is so as to make it possible to access the illegal images without running the risk of being caught with them in their computers.
This scenario can however apply to any other kind of digital contraband material for example stolen credit card details, pornographic images, terrorism training videos or manuals on how to detonate improvised explosive devices.
These viruses are also able to redirect your web browser to sites you did not intend to visit. This will leave a digital trail between your computer and the web site(s) you inadvertently visited.
Computer forensic investigators are however able to determine how images got onto your computer and who was responsible for putting them there. It is also possible to tell the difference between someone who deliberately downloaded contraband images/material and someone who unintentionally downloaded the same because of a virus.
These viruses are not yet common but they exist and will propagate themselves once we enter the era of cloud computing. You can avoid infection by making sure that your operating system and anti-virus software are up-to-date.