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Stealth virus

Stealth virus

(also hidden virus)

Stealth virus definition

A stealth virus is any virus that attacks while trying to avoid detection by antivirus software. It can strike partitions, boot sectors, or files in a computer, trying to remain unnoticed by the user. The stealth virus avoids detection by copying itself from one file to another and replacing itself with a “clean” file. What this virus mainly does is steal valuable and personal information. After the virus enters a computer, it attacks parts of the system or the system as a whole. The first known stealth virus is Brian, created in Pakistan in 1986.

Stealth virus real-life examples

  • The Chernobyl virus. A stealth virus first discovered in 1998 aimed to rewrite the BIOS of a computer’s motherboard, rendering the system inoperable. The Chernobyl virus, also known as the CIH virus, infected approximately 60 million computers, causing an estimated $1 billion in damages.
  • The Stuxnet virus. A sophisticated worm first discovered in 2010 that targeted industrial control systems, particularly those from Iran’s nuclear program. It combined stealth and anti-detection capabilities, significantly impacting global security and leading to increased investment in cybersecurity measures.
  • The Duqu virus. A stealth virus and a successor to the Stuxnet virus, it was first discovered in 2011. The goal was to steal sensitive information from targeted organizations, such as industrial control systems and other critical infrastructure.

Protecting against a stealth virus

  • Use reputable antivirus software programmed to detect stealth viruses.
  • Upgrade to the latest security patches.
  • Enable firewalls and other security measures.
  • Check multiple times when downloading files from an email.
  • Avoid suspicious links.
  • Use strong passwords.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security