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Found using heuristics, heuristic viruses can install malicious programs on your device, change antivirus settings, and disable antivirus software. Here’s everything you need to know about heuristic viruses and how to detect them.
Feb 24, 2022 · 4 min read
Have you ever received a notification saying that a heuristic virus has been found? Don’t panic. A virus is only called “heuristic” due to the way it's discovered by antivirus software. The term heuristic is derived from the Greek word “heurisko,” which means to “find out” or “discover.”
Older versions of antivirus software used “signature detection” to detect viruses, comparing computer code against a list of known viruses to check whether it’s a virus or not. As you can imagine, signature detection is limited to viruses that are already known.
Heuristic virus detection identifies viruses by checking files and code behaving suspiciously. It then flags them as potentially dangerous in three separate stages: dynamic scanning, file analysis, and multicriteria analysis (MCA).
Heuristic viruses are called “heuristic” due to the way that they’re detected. Using heuristic analysis, your antivirus software identifies this type of virus by examining code for suspicious properties. Most antivirus tools use heuristic analysis, making it easier to detect new threats before they wreak havoc on your device.
Common heuristic viruses include:
Heuristics for software were developed as early as 1990 by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich. Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation championed user friendliness, abandoning computer lingo for everyday language to help the user identify problems with software.
Today, antivirus software is an essential tool. With 560,000 new pieces of malware detected every day, now more than one billion malware programs exist, with trojans accounting for 58% of all computer malware.
Since trojans can hide as code within files on your computer and take control of your device, they’re often detected heuristically, so they’re considered a heuristic virus.
In the biggest heuristic virus attacks:
There does happen to be a form of malware called Heur.Invader, which is nicknamed “The Heuristic Virus.” Heur.Invader malware is notorious for attacking your antivirus software, changing settings, and disabling security software.
Certain viruses hide in files on your device, files that you accidentally downloaded, or files were tricked into downloading via phishing emails, for instance. Luckily there’s an easy way to scan for heuristic viruses. To get rid of Heur.Invader malware or any other kind of heuristic virus, follow these three steps.
How to identify and remove a heuristic virus
Safe mode disables all non-essential programs and most known malware, making it easier to detect malware that's camouflaged or disrupting the antivirus scan.
Hackers trick you into clicking legitimate-looking links that could download malware onto your device. Double check the spelling of the site name and the URL to make sure you haven’t been directed to a suspicious website. Better yet, use NordVPN. It includes Threat Protection which when enabled, blocks suspicious sites known for hosting malware.
When you’re notified to update your software on your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or PC, never ignore the message. These updates containcybersecurity improvements that fix security weaknesses and help keep your devices free from malware and bugs.
Make sure you frequently run antivirus scans to nip any hidden viruses in the bud. It's also best to enable heuristic analysis on your antivirus software – most antivirus tools offer a heuristic analysis feature so you can weed out hidden malware that might be camouflaged.
You should also try NordVPN's new Threat Protection feature that identifies malicious files, blocks trackers, dodgy websites and ads. It can also neutralize cyber threats before they land on your device.