When we talk about malware and viruses in this day and age we talk about it in a different context than we did 10 to 20 years ago.
The malware around now is more pervasive but it is less damaging to your actual system.
Now the damage mostly happens to your credit report and your sense of privacy.
Back in the day, the damage would happen to your actual computer.
There were viruses that set out to destroy your desktop and all of the data on it and these attacks were done, not for money, but for pure amusement.
You used to get a lot of credit as a hacker by the number of systems that you were able to take down.
Boot Sector Viruses
During this time there was a virus that was worse than all of the others – it would actually get into the hardware of the machine and infect it.
This virus was known as a boot sector virus and it did a lot of damage during those years.
The reason why it was called a boot sector virus was because the code would get inside of the actual boot portion of your computer.
There are several segments in the memory (aka Ram) that you purchase from the store.
The computer creates these segments and from there only certain parts of the memory can be used by certain parts of the system.
The lower part is to start up the computer, above that is the kernel information, and above that is the system information that is used by the programs that you interact with.
The lower part of memory is supposed to be untouchable by the normal upper part of the system but back then black hat hackers were able to find a way to get into this segment of memory.
By doing that, they were able to create havoc to the computer and its normal boot up process.
Do We Still Have To Worry About Boot Sector Viruses?
The question remains, though, do we still have to worry about problems like this anymore?
Not really – there are protections that have been put into place to stop a virus like this from taking hold of the computer but unfortunately there are still ways for attackers to get into the kernel level of memory.
This means that they can still do some serious damage to your installation, if not the hardware itself.
Even though a problem in the kernel level can be fixed by an antivirus or, if not that, then wiping your data out and reinstalling your operating system, this is not an ideal solution.
I don’t know what was better, having hackers trying to destroy your computer or doing what they do these days and trying to steal your data?
I guess it would have to be them trying to destroy your computer because then you would lose only your computer.
Nowadays, alas, it is more likely that you could lose your livelihood.