Virus and Malware are pieces of software, just like any other software you may be already using on your computer, although of a malicious nature. They self-install upon visiting devious websites, downloading spyware infested files, or opening infected email attachments, among other ways. The most common symptoms of a Virus or Malware infection, are a decrease in the computer performance and frequent computer lock-ups. The infected system can stop responding temporarily and sometimes it can even just freeze, forcing you to reboot to regain control.
This is because the vast majority of programmers who write the code for a Virus or Malware, do not care about writing code that makes efficient use of your computer’s resources. Every computer has a limited amount of resources at its disposal, that’s why when you open multiple programs, everything tends to slow down. A Virus or Malware infection can start using up all the system’s resources and cause your computer to slow down. This is the very first symptom users should pay attention to, when trying to determine whether their system has been infected with Virus or Malware.
Virus and Malware are a broader term for any form of computer code that is malicious. However, Malware is essentially a piece of software that infects your system any chance it gets, while a Virus is something you accidentally install yourself (e.g. attempt to open an email attachment). As social networks like Facebook and Twitter have grown in popularity, hackers and cyber criminals are exploiting these systems to find new ways of infecting computers and stealing identities.
Computer response slower than usual, Browser redirecting to unwanted websites, pop-ups appearing, are the most common symptoms.
Another symptom of Virus or Malware infection is unwanted pop-ups. These are additional browser windows that open automatically, displaying promotional content often not related to the products or services offered by the specific website you are visiting. For example, you may be browsing your Bank’s website and additional windows begin appearing on your screen that promote a timeshare in Zimbabwe! Multiple, unrelated pop-ups are a good indication that a Virus or Malware may have infected your computer. An additional symptom that can alert users to a potential Virus and Malware infection is browser redirection. You type an address in your browser, but you are then displayed a different website. This can be a very dangerous infection, as it can lead to elaborate schemes to steal your personal information.
Some forms of Spyware can be very dangerous, as they can lead to elaborate schemes to steal your personal information.
To make things more confusing for the average user, having an Antivirus does often not help in avoiding infections. Unfortunately an Antivirus is neither a magic shield, nor a magic cure. It can only avoid a Virus or Malware infection to a certain extent. To be Virus and Malware free, a behavioral change is needed while online. Avoid opening email attachments, even when they are from a known and trusted source, unless they are work related. If you receive an email attachment from a colleague, you should confirm with that person that he actually intended sending you that attachment. There are malicious programs that once inadvertently installed by the user, can scan their contacts list and send itself to everyone in that list. Do not visit websites that offer questionable content, like allowing you to play the latest movies for free, downloading free music, free software or free adult content.
Having an Antivirus does not help in avoiding infections. Antivirus is neither a magic shield, nor a magic cure.
If you suspect that you may have been infected by Spyware, the first thing you want to do is Backup your data. Make sure that you have a copy of your Documents, Pictures, Videos and anything else important. If your Office is located in our service area, we would be happy to pay you a visit and assess the damage to determine the best course of action. We have seen some computers where the infection was so bad that it required a factory restore. This is in most cases desirable, as it ensures that your computer will not be left in a compromised state. We can return your computer to normal operation for a flat fee in most cases.