The DICT Development Group

Search for:
Search type:

Database copyright information
Server information
Wiki: Resources, links, and other information

3 definitions found
 for computer virus
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Virus \Vi"rus\, n. [L., a slimy liquid, a poisonous liquid,
     poison, stench; akin to Gr. ? poison, Skr. visha. Cf.
     Wizen, v. i.]
     1. (Med.) Contagious or poisonous matter, as of specific
        ulcers, the bite of snakes, etc.; -- applied to organic
        poisons. [Archaic]
        [1913 Webster +PJC]
     2. the causative agent of a disease, . [obsolescent]
     3. any of numerous submicroscopic complex organic objects
        which have genetic material and may be considered as
        living organisms but have no proper cell membrane, and
        thus cannot by themselves perform metabolic processes,
        requiring entry into a host cell in order to multiply. The
        simplest viruses have no lipid envelope and may be
        considered as complex aggregates of molecules, sometimes
        only a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and a coat protein. They
        are sometimes viewed as being on the borderline between
        living and nonliving objects. They are smaller than living
        cells in size, usually between 20 and 300 nm; thus they
        pass through standard filters, and were previously
        referred to as filterable virus. The manifestations of
        disease caused by multiplication of viruses in cells may
        be due to destruction of the cells caused by subversion of
        the cellular metabolic processes by the virus, or by
        synthesis of a virus-specific toxin. Viruses may infect
        animals, plants, or microorganisms; those infecting
        bacteria are also called bacteriophages. Certain
        bacteriophages may be non-destructive and benign in the
        host; -- see bacteriophage.
        [1913 Webster +PJC]
     4. Fig.: Any morbid corrupting quality in intellectual or
        moral conditions; something that poisons the mind or the
        soul; as, the virus of obscene books.
        [1913 Webster]
     5. (Computers) a program or segment of program code that may
        make copies of itself (replicate), attach itself to other
        programs, and perform unwanted actions within a computer;
        also called computer virus or virus program. Such
        programs are almost always introduced into a computer
        without the knowledge or assent of its owner, and are
        often malicious, causing destructive actions such as
        erasing data on disk, but sometime only annoying, causing
        peculiar objects to appear on the display. The form of
        sociopathic mental disease that causes a programmer to
        write such a program has not yet been given a name.
        Compare trojan horse[3].

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  computer virus
      n 1: a software program capable of reproducing itself and
           usually capable of causing great harm to files or other
           programs on the same computer; "a true virus cannot spread
           to another computer without human assistance" [syn:
           virus, computer virus]

From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015) :

  computer virus
      (By analogy with biological viruses, via science
     fiction) A program or piece of code, a type of malware,
     written by a cracker, that "infects" one or more other
     programs by embedding a copy of itself in them, so that they
     become Trojan horses.  When these programs are executed, the
     embedded virus is executed too, thus propagating the
     "infection".  This normally happens invisibly to the user.
     A virus has an "engine" - code that enables it to propagate
     and optionally a "payload" - what it does apart from
     propagating.  It needs a "host" - the particular hardware and
     software environment on which it can run and a "trigger" - the
     event that starts it running.
     Unlike a worm, a virus cannot infect other computers without
     assistance.  It is propagated by vectors such as humans
     trading programs with their friends (see SEX).  The virus
     may do nothing but propagate itself and then allow the program
     to run normally.  Usually, however, after propagating silently
     for a while, it starts doing things like writing "cute"
     messages on the terminal or playing strange tricks with the
     display (some viruses include display hacks).  Viruses
     written by particularly antisocial crackers may do
     irreversible damage, like deleting files.
     By the 1990s, viruses had become a serious problem, especially
     among IBM PC and Macintosh users (the lack of security on
     these machines enables viruses to spread easily, even
     infecting the operating system).  The production of special
     antivirus software has become an industry, and a number of
     exaggerated media reports have caused outbreaks of near
     hysteria among users.  Many lusers tend to blame
     *everything* that doesn't work as they had expected on virus
     attacks.  Accordingly, this sense of "virus" has passed into
     popular usage where it is often incorrectly used for other
     types of malware such as worms or Trojan horses.
     See boot virus, phage.  Compare back door.  See also
     Unix conspiracy.
     [{Jargon File]

Questions or comments about this site? Contact webmaster@dict.org