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Direct Action Virus: How it Works and How to Protect Yourself

A direct action virus replicates itself before attaching to an executable file.

Direct Action Virus: How it Works and How to Protect Yourself

Key Points:

  • A direction action virus is a type of malware that attaches itself to an executable file like COM. or EXE. files.
  • Symptoms include pop-ups, missing files, corrupted files, and redirected web searches.
  • The goal of a direct-action virus is to steal personal data, disrupt network activity, and delete files.

With approximately 560,000 new malware piece detections daily, it’s important to know how computer viruses work and how to protect yourself from them. One common class of malware is the direct action virus. Learn more about infection symptoms, antivirus protection, and safety steps to avoid this cybersecurity threat to your computer and network.

virus detected
A direct action virus replicates itself before attaching to an executable file.

How a Direct Action Virus Works

Computer viruses attach themselves to many different files for many different purposes. Unlike other forms of malware, like worms, viruses require a program or file to infect. Computer worms are standalone programs that are embedded in computer memory and can be easily shared over a network, but viruses embed themselves in particular files before self-replicating and spreading their code around a computer or entire network.

A direct-action virus attaches itself to an executable file. Most commonly, this means a COM. or EXE. file, used for execution or command. In other cases, however, this type of virus could attach to BAT, SYS, OBJ, PRG, or other files. In some cases, the C language file of a system can even be infected.

Once a device becomes infected, the infection process can vary depending on whether it’s a resident or non-resident virus. Compare these two types to see what occurs and to learn more about prevention steps.

Resident vs Non-Resident Virus Examples

A resident virus stores itself in your computer’s memory. Whether hidden or clearly visible, these types of malware are file infectors that operate even if you don’t execute a particular command. They live in your computer memory and can activate regardless of which files you execute.

Non-resident viruses need a command to operate. Unless a virus has attached itself to startup commands, restarting or turning off your device can typically stop the virus. Typically, non-resident viruses, like direct action viruses, are easier to remove. They can still cause serious damage or major inconveniences, so it’s important to understand the symptoms of an attack and the ways you can prevent one from occurring.

virus alert
A direction action virus is a type of malware that attaches itself to an executable file like COM. or EXE. files.

Symptoms of a Direct Action Virus Attack

While a resident virus is considered more harmful than a non-resident virus, both can disrupt normal operations and spread to other devices on the same network. The specific symptoms of a direct-action virus can vary, but here are some common ones.

Unexpected Pop-Ups

A direct action virus can contain adware, which causes unwanted ads to pop up as you use your device. Some of these pop-ups only occur while you’re searching the internet, while others occur while using other applications.

Missing or Corrupted Files

Because these viruses attach themselves to execution files, they can alter or delete files upon execution. This can cause an otherwise legitimate program to no longer run.

One way a non-resident virus, like a direct action virus, can affect your computer is through redirected websites. If you feel you aren’t being directed to the website you clicked on, or if there are any warning signs of the websites you’re on, then you may have experienced a direct action infection.

computer virus detected
Symptoms of a direct-action virus include pop-ups, missing files, corrupted files, and redirected web searches.

Goals of a Direct Action Virus

Why does a hacker use a direct-action virus? Like other malware attacks, there are many different goals for this cyberattack. The most common ones include stealing personal data, disrupting network activity, and deleting files. A non-resident virus can achieve these goals even without embedding itself into your computer memory.

Steal Data

A common goal for computer viruses is to take personal data. This can then be used as a ransom, which is called ransomware, or it can be used for other crimes. Identity theft is a serious crime that a hacker can perform that can be time-consuming and costly to fix.

Disrupt Activity

Corrupted files, redirected websites, and other issues disrupt computer and network activity. These direct action virus infection strategies make it difficult for you to continue with work as normal.

Delete Files

Other viruses simply wish to delete files and programs. Whether deleted or corrupted, files are inaccessible until the virus that a hacker sent is removed. In some cases, files may be permanently damaged.

How to Prevent a Direct Action Infection

There are several key cybersecurity prevention steps to take to avoid a direct action infection. A non-resident virus is typically easier to remove than a resident one, so you don’t have to worry about permanently dealing with this type of computer or network infection.

Avoid Suspicious Files

Opening a file or running a program that’s infected are the only ways a direct-action virus can execute and self-replicate. Because of this, it’s important to be cautious when downloading files or clicking on links. The latest antivirus software can help notify you of suspicious files.

Removing a Direct Action Virus

Removal may be the best option if it’s too late for computer virus prevention. Compared with resident viruses, these direct infections are relatively easy to remove from a device with one or both of the following cybersecurity steps.

Restart Your Computer

In many cases, restarting your computer can remove a direct action virus. This type of infection requires the running of an executable file, so failure to run infected files will stop the attack in its tracks.

The Best Antivirus Software for a Direct Action Virus

Thankfully, direct-action viruses are relatively easy to remove. Unlike resident alternatives, you may not even need an antivirus program. For full protection and simple removal, however, consider one of the best antivirus software options on the market:

  • Norton Antivirus Plus: High independent lab scores, plentiful features, and a special ransomware Data Protector feature make this a competitive option for non-resident and resident attacks.
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus: A VPN, bank protection, ransomware protection, and Do Not Track features all offer excellent coverage for your device.
  • ESET NOD32 Antivirus: Thanks to device control, exploit protection, and other unique features, this program offers advanced settings you may not receive from other companies. It can be more complex than many users prefer.
  • Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus: Don’t bog down your machine with large antivirus programs. Webroot offers a resource-light version of antivirus protection that can even remediate some damage due to ransomware for added safety and peace of mind.
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Are you interested in learning about other computer viruses? Check out our complete guide!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does direct action virus work?

A direct action virus is a form of malware that self-replicates and attaches to an executable file. It requires a user to execute the file in order to run, making it less dangerous than resident viruses.

What is a direct action virus example?

If you open an infected file or launch an infected program, a direct action virus will spread throughout your device and/or network. Some are designed to steal your data while others damage files and disrupt activities.

How can we be protected from direct action viruses?

The best defenses against a direct action virus are to avoid opening suspicious files and to run one of the best antivirus software applications.

What does the direct action virus affect?

While these viruses require you to execute a file or program to take effect, they can affect the entire network your device is connected to and compromise your file safety.

Who invented the direct action virus?

The first known computer virus was Brain, created in 1986 by brothers Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi. This virus was embedded in the boot software of illegal copies of their software.

What is the difference between direct virus and resident virus?

A direct action virus, as a non-resident virus, is attached to executable files. Resident viruses, however, directly reside in a computer’s RAM and aren’t tied with the execution of a particular file or program.

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