My old computer was severely infected with viruses. So badly that
the viruses cut off task manager, changed my background to a screen
warning me about spyware and also tries to restart my computer every
five minutes. My anti virus pops up with a new virus its found every
few minutes as well. I’m not really interested in fixing the old
computer. I’m purchasing a new one in a week or so. My question is can
these viruses I have be transferred through pictures I have put on a
cd-rom? These are priceless pictures. My mother who uses the same
computer as me would be devastated if I couldn’t put these on the new
Short answer: probably not. In fact it’s highly unlikely that
viruses actually travel in pictures.
However, there are a few things to be aware of, and a few steps that
will increase the security of your result.
In general, you’re probably quite safe. It’s highly unlikely that a picture you had prior to an infection became infected. In fact it’s so unlikely that in your shoes, I’d probably do nothing about them.
There are some cases where pictures can in fact carry viruses, but once again even that is extremely rare. Typically, a virus-carrying picture must be created by someone with malicious intent, so they’re not going to infect existing photos. When they first appeared they were placed on websites so that visitors would be infected.
These images also take advantage of vulnerabilities that have long been fixed by Microsoft, so making sure your system is up-to-date with the latest patches also goes a long way to ensure that you’re safe even if by some change you did happen to have one.
The other picture-related vector for virus propagation is a picture that’s not a picture.
The name of a file is just that: a name, and nothing more. The operating system uses the file name as a hint of what to do with the file. For example, this means that Windows knows that “.jpg” files should be opened using an image viewer.
But there’s nothing that says a “.jpg” file needs to actually contain a picture. In fact, some exploits in the past have caused files of one type to be called something else. You see this all the time in virus-bearing email attachments where files might be called “.zip”, but in fact might contain a “.exe” executable that can then run and infect your machine.
The same thing has, at times, happened with “.jpg” files. Depending on how it’s done, and how up to date your system is, it’s possible for a virus to masquerade as a picture. If you attempt to view the picture, you get a virus instead.
But once again, these weren’t pictures to begin with; they’re scenarios that were specifically crafted to deceive.
If you have a picture that you know is a picture – particularly if it’s a picture you took with your own camera or scanned with your own scanner – then it’s extremely unlikely that it would become infected with a virus.
However there’s nothing wrong with double or triple checking.
So, here’s what I would do:
Burn the pictures to CD for safekeeping.
Run an up-to-date virus scan (or two) on the CD, making sure that it’s configured to check all files.
Assuming that comes up clean, then I’d consider those pictures perfectly safe.