Can a virus damage computer hardware?

Updated 6/30/2020 from

Because a computer virus is just code, it cannot physically damage computer hardware. However, scenarios can arise where hardware or devices controlled by computers become corrupted. For example, a virus can tell your computer to turn off the fans, causing your computer to overheat and damaging its hardware.

The vast majority of computer viruses are designed to attack only computer data. Also, modern computer hardware is much more difficult to damage without repairing it. If you’re having problems with a computer hardware device, such as a printer, graphics card, sound card, or other hardware device, it’s probably not caused by a virus.

corrupt drivers

Although a virus cannot attack hardware, it can attack or corrupt the software drivers that allow hardware devices to communicate with the computer. In this case, the device may stop working, but there is no physical damage to the hardware. However, keep in mind that it is much more likely that the drivers themselves have problems or that other software corrupted the drivers and not a virus. To fix this type of problem, you need to reinstall the hardware drivers.

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Corruption du BIOS

One of the most notable viruses attacking hardware was the Chernobyl virus. The Chernobyl virus was first discovered in 1999 and corrupted hard drive data and sometimes motherboard BIOS data. When a computer BIOS gets corrupted, it prevents the computer from booting. However, this virus does not physically damage the BIOS; it just corrupts the BIOS code, and when the BIOS chip was replaced, the computer would reboot. Computers today also use an EEPROM, which allows the BIOS and firmware to reboot without having to replace the chip. So if a virus infects a modern BIOS, it could be reflashed with an updated BIOS.

And Stuxnet?

Sophisticated viruses such as Stuxnet are designed to damage computer-controlled hardware. For example, Stuxnet was designed to target centrifuges at Iran’s enrichment facilities. No computer equipment was damaged; However, the virus corrupted the centrifuges because it disabled any system alerts that might have signaled something was wrong.

This type of virus could damage the hardware since the security measures were disabled. However, it was one of the most sophisticated viruses ever written and targeted a specific device. If your computer was infected with Stuxnet, it would not have done anything to your computer.

And a PDoS?

A PDoS (Permanent Denial of Service) attack is not a virus, but a type of attack in which someone exploits the firmware of network devices by flashing them with malicious code. These attacks can damage hardware if the firmware is programmed to perform malicious actions (e.g. disable temperature controls) or cause devices to stop working because the firmware is corrupted.

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Why a virus writer doesn’t want to attack hardware

A person who creates a virus most likely does so for financial reasons, to spy or to take control of the computer. Attempting to write a virus that damages hardware does not help achieve these goals, nor does it help spread the virus to other computers.


It’s plausible that someone could write malware that aims to target a person or company in order to damage hardware. However, in this type of attack, the person would not create a virus that would infect other computers.

Also, it’s harder to damage modern hardware without repairing it. Today’s systems use firmware that can be rebooted or reset without replacing chips or other hardware. In addition, modern systems have security measures that help protect the hardware from damage. For example, if a system gets too hot, it can shut itself down to avoid damage.

Can a virus explode or set a computer on fire?

no There are many stories that a virus can blow up or set fire to a computer; they are not valid. Malicious code could damage or detonate computer-controlled devices (e.g. Stuxnet destroying centrifuges). However, this would only be possible if the control software could trick the hardware into doing something dangerous and would have to disable any warning or prevention system.

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Software can damage computer hardware

It should be mentioned that software designed to adjust system settings, such as B. system clock settings, fans or active heatsinks, can cause computer system problems. In addition, incorrect setting of these parameters can even lead to hardware damage in rare cases. However, these program settings are not computer viruses and, as mentioned earlier, modern systems are also designed to protect the hardware when it reaches a critical point.