• A file virus attaches itself to a file (but see the section below or the comp.virus FAQ on the subject of companion viruses), usually an executable application (e.g. a word processing program or a DOS program). In general, file viruses don't infect data files. However, data files can contain embedded executable code such as macros, which may be used by virus or trojan writers. Recent versions of Microsoft Word are particularly vulnerable to this kind of threat. Text files such as batch files, postscript files, and source code which contain commands that can be compiled or interpreted by another program are potential targets for malware (malicious software), though such malware is not at present common. Boot sector viruses alter the program that is in the first sector (boot sector) of every DOS-formatted disk. Generally, a boot sector infector executes its own code (which usually infects the boot sector or partition sector of the hard disk), then continues the PC bootup (start-up) process. In most cases, all write-enabled floppies used on that PC from then on will become infected. Multipartite viruses have some of the features of both the above types of virus. Typically, when an infected *file* is executed, it infects the hard disk boot sector or partition sector, and thus infects subsequent floppies used or formatted on the target system. Macro viruses typically infect global settings files such as Word templates so that subsequently edited documents are contaminated with the infective macros. The following virus types are more fully defined in the comp.virus FAQs (see preamble): * STEALTH VIRUSES - viruses that go to some length to conceal their presence from programs which might notice. * POLYMORPHIC VIRUSES - viruses that cannot be detected by searching for a simple, single sequence of bytes in a possibly-infected file, since they change with every replication. * COMPANION VIRUSES - viruses that spread via a file which runs instead of the file the user intended to run, and then runs the original file. For instance, the file MYAPP.EXE might be 'infected' by creating a file called MYAPP.COM. Because of the way DOS works, when the user types MYAPP at the C> prompt, MYAPP.COM is run instead of MYAPP.EXE. MYAPP.COM runs its infective routine, then quietly executes MYAPP.EXE. N.B. this is not the *only* type of companion (or 'spawning') virus. * ARMOURED VIRUSES - viruses that are specifically written to make it difficult for an antivirus researcher to find out how they work and what they do.

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