Tech

All You Need to Know About Boot Sector Viruses


Viruses are what every computer user dreads. A popular virus is the boot sector virus, a nightmare for most computer users. It can slow down your systems and prevent your computer from booting for a long time.


The boot sector virus does not just infect your computer alone but also infects any devices connected to your computer via a USB port. Since this is a potential disaster for your computer, it’s good to understand what boot sector viruses are, how they work, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from infecting your machine.


What Is the Boot Sector Virus?

The boot sector is located in your computer’s internal hard drive, which has smaller sectors. This hard drive is home to your computer’s operating system, and the section that houses the boot sector contains the data required to launch a computer. The boot sector virus gains access to a computer hard disk’s master boot sector (MBS) and corrupts the operating system.

Richard Skrent, a 15-year-old student, created the boot sector virus, also known as Elk Cloner, in 1982. The original idea was a non-virulent program to display a poem after the 50th boot of any computer. Programmers took advantage of this idea a few years later by creating their own malware after studying operating systems’ vulnerabilities.

The boot sector virus is among the three classes of computer viruses:

  • Macro virus
  • File investors
  • Boot record infector viruses.

Of these three classes, the boot sector virus is the most lethal, harmful, and potentially threatening to your computer.

How Does It Infect a Computer?

Graphic illustriation of a computer virus

The boot sector virus works in several ways:

  1. It can travel to your computer through a USB device, spreading the infection through the attached device when the computer is booted.
  2. The second way is the current variation which attacks the master boot record (MBR) and deploys the virus the moment you turn on your computer.

The master boot record is the first point of contact on your computer. The result is that it’s always easy for the boot sector virus to spread through the operating system once it gains access. When the computer is booting, the virus takes advantage of executing its malicious code. It can cripple your computer operating systems and cause a temporal shutdown.

Other infection methods include the download of email attachments exposed to the virus, using a shared network from an infected computer, or installing applications containing the boot sector virus from the internet.

How Do You Recognize a Boot Sector Virus Infection?

It’s often hard to detect a boot sector virus infection immediately because the boot sector controls most of the basic booting process. If your computer gets infected and you try to remove the boot virus infection using an antivirus, it may regain access to your computer during the next startup.

However, you can view an abrupt change in operation, such as a problem with your computer booting, the boot sector’s inability to connect to the hard drive, or a short shutdown of your computer operating systems, as a red flag that the boot sector virus has gained access to your computer.

Like other types of viruses, the boot sector virus infection also causes your computer to slow down or encrypt your files and make them disappear after a while.

How Do You Get Rid of a Boot Sector Virus?

An illustration of someone removing a bug from a PC

Getting rid of a boot sector virus can be difficult, so preventing them from entering your computer is easy and better. One effective method is updating your antivirus software to protect the boot sector.

This is because the latest antivirus can identify and cripple viruses before and after they cause problems. They can also block all email attachments that can potentially steal your data and block out dangerous links that are most likely to have viruses and threaten your computer.

Most of them also offer you a hundred percent security when you browse and provide a decent overall protection and user experience. When security software is allowed to update periodically, it prevents virus attacks.

In rare cases where you cannot remove the virus due to excessive damage, you may need to reformat your computer hard drive.

How To Prevent a Boot Sector Virus Infection

Here are some best practices for preventing a boot sector virus infection and protecting your computer.

1. Avoid Unfamiliar USB Storage Devices

A removable USB flash drive

The major carriers of a boot sector virus infection are USB storage devices. Your computer is better protected if you avoid storage devices you don’t know the content of. Scanning removable devices before inserting them into your computer is also a good safety practice.

When you remove a media device from your computer without disconnecting it, you give access to the malware that runs while your computer booting process is going on. It would be best to avoid inserting external devices from unknown sources.

2. Use and Update Antivirus Software

Text reading

Using and updating your antivirus software protects your computer boot sector from the virus. In addition, regularly scanning your operating system for suspicious activity is a best practice.

3. Avoid Unfamiliar Mails

The boot sector virus infection also travels through email. You should avoid opening email from unknown senders or downloading attached links.

4. Back Up Your Files Regularly

When you back up your files regularly, it becomes easy for you to restore them if a virus damages them.

5. Be Security Conscious

Computer screen showing security tab

Be security conscious of any Wi-Fi connectivity, as shared networks can give boot sector viruses access to your computer. Also, do not download apps that require you to use their download manager.

6. Encrypt Your Disk

Encrypting your disk also helps protect the boot sector disk.

Protect Your Computer’s Boot Sector at All Cost

The boot sector is a critical part of your hard drive. The entire hard drive can stop working if this part gets damaged.

The relationship between the boot sector and the hard drive is like a key to a lock. If the key is misplaced, the safety will be hard to break through. Therefore, any wrong intrusion into this area can cause physical damage or malware attack on your computer, rendering it useless.

Your computer’s maintenance and security might seem daunting. But it’s required to have a smooth and effortless experience when using your computer.

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