Computer Myths

Computer Myths

Can Viruses Physically Damage my Computer?

Theoretically, no. The computer viruses are software code designed to spread across computers stored data and damage files, steal information or execute any other malicious payload.

At times, such malware can also cause malfunctions in hardware through the manipulation of software drivers that establish and control communication between the hardware and the operating system. One infamous specimen of the malware family, the CIH (aka Chernobyl or Spacefiller) virus, is known for going a little lower (pun intended) and erasing the system BIOS programs in thousands of computers around the world, rendering them completely unusable. But in all these scenarios no hardware is actually physically damaged, only the software that controls or runs on top of it.

Now, although viruses in their digital form cannot take actions at a physical level, there is some talk about the possibility of running some complex virus schemes that work hardware parts to exhaustion, causing them to be physically damaged for good. The theory says that this should be impossible when the computer parts are at impeccable levels, with proper cooling and power source. But of course, reality tends to laugh at theories, and History records a prime example of what can be achieved when there is the will as well as the financial and technical means to develop highly targeted, effective and destructive malware: Stuxnet.

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