How Computer Viruses Get Their Names

virusHeartbleed, Melissa, Klez, Nimda, and Sasser. All of these innocent-sounding words could ruin your computer, steal your information, and impact your digital life forever.

These computer viruses and system vulnerabilities are the best at what they do: breaking stuff. But how did these terrors get their names?

There’s no one standardized way to name viruses. These aren’t hurricanes; there’s no master list to turn to, and no authority that watches over them to regulate how they’re dealt with.

Instead, there are three main avenues for virus naming: when the name is given to the virus as part of its programming; when the vector by which the virus is spread determines the name; and when a vulnerability is found and then named after the fact, usually by its discoverer.  More

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