You’re on your computer and you’ve noticed it has started slowing down. Plus when you are online you find you are getting more and more popups; perhaps you get redirected to a different website than the one you had intended to visit. It is getting quite irritating and you aren’t sure what exactly is going on. You might even ask if your computer is starting to break. It’s actually possible that your computer isn’t broken, in fact, it’s quite possible your computer has a virus. So now what? How can you be sure that there is a virus? What do you do to get the infection off your computer?
Before getting into what you should do if you suspect an infection, it is first important to understand what a virus is and how to protect your computer from.
What are viruses?
Put simply, a virus is a code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a negative effect, such as corrupting the system or encrypting software. There are several names you’ve probably heard to describe viruses the most common being malware, spyware, adware, and ransomware.
Malware is malicious software and is often a blanket term used to describe an assortment of forms of hostile or intrusive software. This can include computer viruses, worms, trojan, ransomware, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.
Spyware is software that enables the access to information on your computer by another party. This information is intercepted and transmitted to another device that is used by the other party.
Adware, also known as advertising-supported software, is any software package that automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their systems, files, or programs. This type of malware has been becoming more malicious and prevalent lately and has hit the news a few times in the last year, you may recall the DMA Locker attacks from last fall or the WannaCry attacks earlier this year. Both of these ransomware software programs worked the same, encrypting user data or blocking user access to their system requiring the victim to pay a ransom in order to gain access to their system or to get data back.
Now that you have a bit of an idea of what malware is and the different types you might be thinking about how to go about preventing an infection from invading your computer. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to follow to help keep your computer healthy.
Do-Install a quality antivirus software onto your computer. You will want to be sure you have one that will actively scan your computer.
Don’t-assume that having an antivirus software will block all viruses, most of the time malware is installed on a computer from something we’ve clicked on or downloaded.
Do-Keep your anti-malware software updated. If you are using a paid antivirus, be sure to update it when your license is going to expire. Be sure to run your windows updates to keep programs that come with your computer up-to-date.
Do-Run daily scans. Keep things up to date on your virus protection and take a little time each day to run a scan on your computer.
Do-Practice smart surfing. When online, avoid banner ads, popups, and questionable links. Some popup windows or banner ads are designed to look like legitimate anti-virus software but in reality are not what they claim to be.
Don’t-Click on unknown email links or attachments. If you are unsure of the link or attachment avoid opening it. Even if it is from a known sender, be cautious on what you are opening.
Do-Download only from trusted locations, but even so, be careful of what you are downloading. Often legit programs will package in other programs so be sure to read the installer screens so you are aware of what you are saying yes or no to when completing a download.
Do-Be skeptical of callers or pop-up windows telling you your computer is infected or claiming to be Microsoft. This is more than likely to be a scam attempting to get you to give them access to your computer and to pay them.
Always remember to be cautious when using email or going online. When in doubt, sometimes the best thing to do is to avoid clicking on a questionable link. Be careful on which websites you visit, if you aren’t sure then skip visiting that questionable site.
As always, antivirus programs are fantastic to help protect your computer but they aren’t 100% foolproof. You, as the user, are the best defense against infection. Keep following these safe practices to help keep your computer safe. Of course, it never hurts to get your computer checked by a professional from time-to-time. If you have any concerns, if your computer is acting a little weird, running slow, or missing icons, this is a good time to bring your computer in for work.
CompuTime, your locally owned and operated computer repair store, has been in business for over 20 years with technicians skilled in virus removal. If you suspect your computer might have a malware infection, stop by and we would be happy to help clean your computer for you. Businesses, CompuTime is now offering a Managed Anti-Virus solution to serve your company’s needs. Whether a home user or a business, CompuTime is here to help protect your devices.