When is something called a Virus

A month or so ago, my browser was taken over by “Babylon” and I had no idea how it arrived and also areal pain in the butt to remove totally from the PC.

I checked online and many websites called it a Virus but others said it was not.

Surely any program that you do not ask for that gets into you computer is a virus or am I missing something?

Anything that gets onto your computer that you don’t want is malware in general, for a malware to be a Virus it must be self replicating.

That is how it was explained to me.
I could be wrong, but it sounds good to me!

The old definitions of malware have been blurred over the years, and the strict usage of terms is ignored as often or not. But originally malware was often categorised by the manner of its operation based upon the similarity of its operation to pathogens in biology. So a computer virus should operate in a similar manner to a biological virus. This requires that it inject its code (aka DNA) into the code of an application (ie a cell’s DNA) and that it should operate as a malicious component of that application. It hijacks the operation of the program it its own ends - just as a biological virus hijacks the DNA of a cell. Strict definition does not allow a virus to be a stand alone program. That is typically termed a worm. Worms infest your computer as standalone programs, and do not depend upon the activation of an existing program to operate. Just as a worm is a separate biological entity that simply resides within you. Either can replicate.

The wide range of malware, and sophistication of operation, tends to render the simple taxonomy of operation somewhat obsolete. Some malware can exist in both states, and other states that arguably call for further biological analogues.

The manner of infection is another issue again.

Yes, the idea of a virus is that it is self replicating. But sometimes you get the non-replicating product of a virus, or just some malware that gets called a virus anyway. It’s irrelevant what you call it. Each one can be totally different in composition. The term is just a description of one facet of it’s behavior.

Babylona virus?

I certainly don’t think so. I use it daily as a translation tool. There are options to install a toolbar and use it as a default search provider but you can decline with no problem. I said no when I installed and it has never asked again or altered any of my searches.

It does have adware, of sorts. Three or four times a year it pops up offering discounts on additional dictionaries for the program. One click and the ad closes, no funny business.

Or is there something else floating around using the name babylon?

Go to Google
Search - Babylon Malware

You will find that there are people who disagree with you. From what I can tell they aren’t talking about a separate application.

I recently installed some software that required an opt-out to decline the Babylon toolbar. I declined but if you’re not paying attention it’s very easy to miss. It’s when you fail to decline that things get messy. I have dealt with such toolbars before that are a real pain in ass and difficult to eradicate. I do not consider this a virus because it is technically an invited guest. This kind of thing is often included with free software targeted to folks that are not particularly vigilant about what they’re willing to install on their computers. My kids get this kind of crap all the time.

Yeah, I did search exactly that before posting. But it was not clear to me if they were talking about something else.

In my humble experience I have found the Babylon translation tool to be one of the more useful programs I have ever used. I do not, however, use the Babylon toolbar or internet search functions.

Whenever I updated versions I was able to go into the control panel and completely uninstall the prior version - had to actually - before installing the new version. In my experience, viruses often don’t uninstall via the control panel.

If you whisper to someone that you’re going to takes stuff from their house, and they, not paying attention, nod their head, does that mean you are not a thief if you take their stuff?

Morally no, but that is a poor analogy and has nothing to do with my post, the point of which was to draw a distinction between software installed with notification vs. a virus. The Babylon toolbar is sometimes installed along with other software that you are installing on purpose, and you are generally notified of it. A virus, worm, or Trojan horse is installed without your knowledge that anything at all is being installed and generally takes advantages of security holes in a system to do so, and often has destructive behavior or stealthily communicates information it finds back to its handler. Babylon is annoying and tenacious but not destructive. I have seen exactly the same distribution method used for the Yahoo! toolbar and Ask.com toolbar.

A man named Virus.