A Comprehensive Introduction to Boot Sector Virus [Updated 2024]

Jerry updated on Jan 11, 2024 | Home > Knowledge Center

What Is a Boot Sector Virus?

A boot sector virus is a type of malware that infects a computer's system boot partition or the Master Boot Record (MBR) of a hard disk. Boot sector viruses will attack the boot sector of a floppy disk or the boot sector of a hard disk to ensure that their code is run each time the computer is started.

The boot sector virus represents one of the earliest programs designed to attack and infect PC. Some common boot sector viruses include Elk Cloner, NYB, Stoned, and Michelangelo. 

Boot sector viruses are among three classes of viruses: macro viruses, file infectors, and boot-record infector viruses. Of the three types of viruses, boot sector viruses can be the most damaging. 

How Does the Virus Spread?

When a boot sector virus enters your system, it will infect the connected storage media. How does it spread is as follows:

  • Email attachment. This is one of the common reasons for the spread of the boot sector virus. As you download the email attachment, the boot virus code comes with it and then affects the host computer.
  • An infected USB drive or disk. Computers become infected when using an infected disk. A boot sector virus can spread through an infected USB drive or floppy disk. When you plug an infected USB drive into your computer, it will replace the existing boot sector code and infect it. 
  • Third-party applications. If you install applications from the internet, they may contain boot sector viruses, and installing them can overwrite your current boot sector code.

The Effect of Infecting Boot Sector Viruses

Viruses can be a nightmare for computer users. Infecting the boot sector virus can cause a variety of problems, such as boot or data loss on Windows, for computer users:

  • Boot sector viruses insert code into the startup section of a disk. Once infected, the disk may become unbootable. 
  • Boot sector viruses, like most other malware, may cause your computer to slow down.
  • Files on your computer may be encrypted or disappear after infecting the virus.
  • The boot sector virus can also cause your computer to be unable to boot. It may boot to a blue screen, or the OS will not start, or a black screen with an error message may occur.

error message of boot sector virus

Measures to Getting Rid of Malware like Boot Sector Virus

Now, we have gotten intimate knowledge of the destructiveness of the virus. Fortunately, we can take many steps to help defend against the boot sector virus.

For individuals, the ways to prevent computer virus can be:

  • Use anti-virus or anti-malware software;
  • Never open an untrusted email attachment; 
  • Encrypt your Disk. Encryption can help protect your boot sector disk part;
  • Avoid using storage devices that you don't know the content;
  • Do not download software from untrusted websites; and 
  • Back up files regularly so that you can restore them if a virus damages them.

Note: Check your backup files with anti-virus software like Total AV before using them.


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For businesses, the ways to defend against a computer virus can be:

  • Use cybersecurity software that can help detect and block malware threats;
  • Keep anti-malware and firewall software up to date;
  • Train the staff to keep an eye out for phishing emails; and 
  • Make a backup of your data frequently.

You can get more information about free virus removal software for computers in this article. 

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Updated by Jerry

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