A computer virus works similarly to the flu virus: it’s highly contagious, you feel run down, you need more sleep and rest than usual, and it’s difficult to perform even the simplest of daily tasks. Likewise, a computer virus interferes with the performance of your device by replicating itself and spreading throughout the operating system. A virus can damage programs, delete files, and reformat or erase your hard drive, which results in reduced performance or even crashing your system entirely. Hackers can also use viruses to access your personal information to steal or destroy your data.
How a Computer Gets a Virus
There are several ways a computer can get infected by a virus and most of them involve downloading – either intentionally or unintentionally – infected files. Pirated music or movies, photos, free games, and toolbars are common culprits, as are phishing/spam emails with attachments. Viruses can also be downloaded by visiting malicious websites or clicking links or ads to an unknown/unsecured website. Even connecting to an infected external drive (like a USB) can introduce malicious software into your system.
How to Spot a Computer Virus
If you notice any of the following issues with your computer, it may be infected with a virus:
- Slow computer performance (taking a long time to start up or open programs)
- Problems shutting down or restarting
- Missing files
- Frequent system crashes and/or error messages
- Unexpected pop-up windows
- New applications (toolbars, etc.) that appear without you downloading them
- Overworked hard drive (the fan makes sounds and seems to be whirring and working hard when you aren’t doing much)
- Emails that send autonomously from your accounts
- Browser lag or redirects
- Malfunctioning antivirus programs or firewalls
Think you have a computer virus? Call Stacy (941) 246-1048, she can help.