January 10, 2021

How do viruses spread?

I know this is a basic question, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there that is what I call “overkill”. I consider myself a very competent and computer literate person. I’ve written apps in several different languages on a hobbyist level for the past 20 years, and though I admit to torrenting a lot of files over the years, I honestly can’t think of the last time I even had a virus (and I do check).

That said, nobody is perfect. As I got older, I became more responsible and I’ve accumulated wealth that, if I lost access to, would impact not only me but my family and others that rely on my ability to provide support. So, I decided to try to limit my exposure to malware/viruses.

My main question is do viruses need to be “executed” in order to propagate? Let’s say I have a hard drive with an infected file (Drive “B”) . I take this hard drive and connect it to a PC with a fresh install of Windows 10 on it’s own HDD (Drive “A”). What would need to occur in order for the virus on drive B to “activate”? Does a program have to open an infected file on drive “B”?

Ninja edit: Before all the “experts” chime in with unasked for advice, I follow basic safety guidelines when I download torrents. I make sure uploads are by verified uploaders, and check comments. I mainly download movies, almost never applications.

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