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What is a Multipartite Virus?
9/29/2023 - Brian O'Neill

The descriptive term “multipartite” refers to anything composed of multiple parts. In the context of cybersecurity, multipartite viruses are those capable of infecting a computer in multiple different ways at the same time. Left undetected, these dynamic virus threats can have a devastating impact on any computer system and prove the most challenging to remove post-infection.

woman looking at screen with shield on it

How are multipartite viruses composed?

In most cases, multipartite viruses tend to present both boot-sector and file-sector infection capabilities. The combination of these separate infection capabilities makes the threat of multipartite viruses particularly intimidating.

While boot-sector infections are less common today than they were in decades past (regularly incapacitating old-generation computers booted with floppy disks), it’s still possible for sophisticated multipartite viruses to encrypt modern Master Boot Records (MBR) and cause severe problems within a system. When the boot-sector of a computer is infected with a virus, its malware will load into memory once the computer completes its start-up sequence, paving the way for innumerable files and devices to be rapidly infected.

File-sector infections are very common in the modern threat landscape. This component of a multipartite virus most often targets executable/program files (often those with .exe or .com extensions). When these important executable file types are infected, they can spread a virus rapidly across systems and networks alike, and they can even reformat hard drives in extreme cases. File-sector infectors can impact several different operating systems, too.

All told, multipartite viruses can cause extreme, far-reaching damage to any system. If these viruses aren’t properly purged from a system at every level of infection, they can easily reinfect files in the system repeatedly.

How can multipartite viruses be detected and mitigated?

Because multipartite viruses contain multiple infectors, it’s important to apply a dynamic detection strategy against them. This should generally include signature-based scanning (which references a database of known virus signatures) and zero-day threat scanning (a combination of heuristic analysis, behavioral analysis, sandboxing, and other such methods which do not solely rely on referencing known virus signatures for malware detection).

Since multipartite viruses typically enter a system through traditional malware delivery methods – i.e., spam emails & untrusted file uploads – it’s important to focus a significant amount of attention on denying their entry into a system. These delivery methods can be stymied with regular user training (against social engineering attacks), dynamic threat signature detection, and judicious content restriction policies.

Detecting multipartite virus threats with the Cloudmersive Virus Scan API

The Cloudmersive Virus Scan API is a turnkey, 365-degree scanning solution designed to detect a wide range of virus & malware threats – including multipartite viruses – by applying a combination of file hashing, signal extraction, pattern matching, heuristics, whitelisting, bytecode analysis, and certificate analysis. Advanced threat detection policies make it possible to simultaneously perform in-depth content verification against a customized list of restricted file types, enabling exhaustive protection in-storage, at the network edge, and/or in defense of individual applications.

For more information about the Cloudmersive Virus Scan API capabilities, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of our sales team.

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