EXE infector

Threat description



EXE Infector (generic description).

This type of virus infects EXE files. An EXE file is a binary executable file. EXE files can be 16-bit and 32-bit. 16-bit executable files contain for 16-bit operating systems such as DOS and Windows 3.xx. The 32-bit executable files are used in modern operating systems such as Windows. Both 16-bit and 32-bit executable files have headers. A header is a data area that preceedes an executable code and contains vital information about a file (for example all headers contain entry point addresses - the place where execution of a file starts).


Automatic action

Depending on the settings of your F-Secure security product, it will either automatically delete, quarantine or rename the suspect file, or ask you for a desired action.

More scanning & removal options

More information on the scanning and removal options available in your F-Secure product can be found in the Help Center.

You may also refer to the Knowledge Base on the F-Secure Community site for more information.

Contact Support

F-Secure customers can request support online via the Request support or the Chat forms on our Home - Global site.

Technical Details

An EXE infector can be prepending (writes itself before the original file), appending (writes itself to the end of the original file), overwriting (overwrites the original file with its own code), inserting (inserts itself into gaps inside the original file), companion (renames the original file and writes itself with the original file's name) and cavity infector (writes itself between file sections of 32-bit file). An EXE infector can be memory resident and non-memory resident. Memory resident viruses stay active in memory, trap one or more system functions (usually interrupt 21h or Windows file system hooks) and infect files while they are accessed. Non-memory resident viruses search for EXE files on a hard disk and infect them.

An EXE infector can be non-encrypted, encrypted or polymorphic. An encrypted or polymorphic virus consists of one or more decryptors and a main code. A decryptor decrypts main virus code before it could be started. Encrypted viruses usually use fixed or variable key decryptors while polymorphic viruses have decryptors that are randomly generated from processor instructions and contain a lot of commands that are not used in decryption process.

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