Viruses, Malware and Other Computer Infections
All malicious software falls under the category of Computer Viruses. However, not all are viruses are created equal and each serves it’s own purpose to it’s developer.
However, on this page, we’re more concerned with how you can tell you have a virus and removing the infection.
All these types of malicious programs find their way onto your computer through various ways. The most common ways your computer can get a virus is from infected websites, emails and pirated digital media.
Your pc can also get infected through Staff using flash drives and external hard drives. If either of these has come into contact with an infected windows pc, you’re likely to get the same infection.
Virus Infected Websites
Many web designers overlook the importance of security. Even a website with the “https” tag can still be hacked and infected with a virus payload.
The https tag just means that your connection to the website is encrypted. That does not mean though, that the site has not been hacked.
When a website has a virus, Google will give you a warning in your browser. However, it can only do this when it crawls the website. This means that the website may have been infected for a day or so before the warning is issued.
This is the most common way that computers get infected with a virus or malware.
Virus Infected Emails
Once a computer is infected with a virus, it’s not uncommon for the virus to use the email program to infect other pcs.
If you can imagine, this is a clever way to infect masses of pcs in a short space of time.
Pirated Media (Software, Movies and Music)
Many people like to download digital media from torrent sites. It sounds good to them to engage in this behavior because all this media is given away for free.
If we take the time to think about this, why would anyone go through all that trouble to give you something for free? This doesn’t make any sense.
The reason why you’re getting this download free is because there is a virus or malware payload in the media itself.
External Hard Drives and Flash Drives
It’s so common to see external hard drives and flash drives infected with some kind of malicious software. This is because it is so easy to insert into a pc and move files.
Even Computer Support Staff are guilty of this many times. In order to save themselves time, they’ll download software and store it on these devices.
Then every time, someone needs a particular software program or some files, in goes the flash drive.
How Can You Tell if Your PC is infected with a Virus?
It’s quite difficult to know when your computer was initially infected. At first, even though you may have a virus or malware on your computer, everything will appear normal.
A lot of these types of programs are designed to lay dormant for a set amount of time. In other cases, the infection may use so few resources that there is no way to tell.
As time goes on, or when the virus activates, then the program starts to download other malicious programs. Bit by bit you’ll notice that your pc begins to behave in an unusual way.
Here are some of the symptoms you might experience.
1. Your Computer becomes very slow
Right from the time you switch on your pc, you’ll notice that it’s taking a lot longer to boot into windows. Also every task begins to take a lot longer than usual.
Now, there are other reasons why this could happen, so a slow computer is not always infected with a virus. So at this point, being vigilant is key.
Windows updates have also had a negative impact lately, but a virus infection will really grind down a pc.
2. A Lot of Network Activity
Viruses create a lot of network activity. This is because they’re constantly communicating with the master program.
Data is sent to the master and new instructions sent to the virus.
If you’re wondering whether personal information is being sent.
The answer is that yes, your personal information is most likely being sent and stored in a database.
3. Your Virus or Malware Protection Software is turned off
Notice anything unusual with your AntiVirus Software? Has it suddenly been turn off and wont turn on?
A malicious program will often first go after your security software. That would be either your Antivirus or Antimalware software.
It does this so that you don’t receive any alerts whilst the virus performs its duties.
This is a sure sign that you need to get your pc checked and the malicious software removed.
4. Computer Crashes, Reboots and Error Messages
Once your pc is really quite badly affected, it is common for it to go through a series of crashes and reboots.
In less extreme cases, your pc will give you a single or a series of error messages. This is a tell tale sign that the situation is now getting critical.
In other cases, you’ll get a blue screen. When you do get a blue screen, you know that your pc is in deep trouble.
At this point your pc needs urgent maintenance and maybe even repairs to the windows software or a software re-installation.
5. Frequent Windows Error Pop Ups
When windows gets infected, the malicious software often breaks part of the OS. This causes windows to not be able to load certain parts of the OS environment.
In an attempt to notify the user, windows will display an error message on the home screen.
The virus has now been able to damage the windows environment. At this point it’s not uncommon for a re-installation of the windows operating system.
6. Unusual Browser Behavior
When you want to browse the internet, and you open up your web browser. Does it display the search engine you had set as default?
When your browser gets infected, it will often pull up a different search engine than you’re used to. This is a definite tell tale sign that you have either a virus or malware.
If you notice a situation like this, then you need to stay away from using your credit card for any online transactions. Also avoid logging in your bank account.
You computer needs to be checked right away and any infected files need to be removed.
Your computer must be totally clean before you can trust it again. Especially with financial transactions.
7. Your Email Got Hijacked
There have been many cases in the past where emails are sent to the persons contacts loaded with an unusual attachment.
The email often has some time of urgency attached to opening the files or clicking a link.
This is a sure sign that your pc has malicious software.
In these cases it may be more difficult to pin point the infected pc as it doesn’t receive the email that has been sent.
Malware Removal and Virus Removal
If you have noticed that your pc has any of the above symptoms, then you need to consider getting your pc cleaned.
These issues will not go away on their own and things could get worse as time goes on.
With virus and malware removal we generally recommend that you allow us to take the windows pc back to our offices.
This will allow us the time to do a thorough clean. We also normally have to do some repairs to the windows system as files may have been damaged.
In some cases where the damage to the Windows OS is severe, it will be best to either re-install the windows software or factory reset the pc.
We’ll be able to make this judgement once we have thoroughly inspected your computer.
Unfortunately, in these situations there just isn’t much else we can do. The malicious infection has to go or it will create further damage down the line.
If the damage reaches the other computers in your network, then the repair will be so much more expensive.
So it is always better to catch the issue as early as possible.
Extensive Network Virus and Malware Infections
In the event that your entire network has been affected by the virus then the faster we can react the better. The damages in this case will begin to compound at a very fast pace.
In these situations, it is best to only have the most necessary computers on the network. All other computers should be removed from the network.
You staff may still use their computers during this time but extreme caution should be taken in some cases.
In the event of a ransomware infection where more than one pc has been affected, then all computers need to be switched off completely.
In this case, we’ll take one of the lesser important computers and try and resolve the issue.
Once we have the solution we’ll go ahead and repair each computer until they’re all back online.
The reason why this is so critical is because of the destruction to data that takes place. Once the data has been encrypted the chance of recover is very slim.
Mitigate Your Risk with Regular Data Backups
We hope that you’re on this page out of mere curiosity. If you’re here because you already have a virus issue, then this will only help for the future.
Please ensure that you have a strategy in place to back up all crucial data in your business. Having your data backed up doesn’t mean that you can’t get a sever virus infection. But it does mean that you have another copy of your data in the event that something happens.
Something will eventually happen. You can not trust your staff to have your business at heart. During quiet times, at least one person in every eight will do something to put your computers at risk.
Click the link if you would like to know more about our data backup solutions.
Tips to Protect Your PC against Virus and Malware Infections
There is no perfect solution to this problem, but here are some things that you can do today to safeguard your pc.
1. Keep Your Windows OS Up to Date
Keeping your windows OS up to date is vital. Microsoft creates updates that deal with weaknesses in it’s security. Once a month Microsoft will release the latest updates.
These updates have patches that tighten the windows environment and strengthen the security. If your windows environment is up to date, your risk has been minimized greatly.
2. Get a Quality Anti-Virus or Anti-Malware Software
Your security is everything in the cyber world. Now, having an anti-virus doesn’t mean that you’re 100% secure.
In fact, there is no such thing as a complete cyber security solution.
But having an additional layer of protection further is always a good thing.
Please avoid the free versions of antivirus software. The paid up versions have much better protection.
3. Avoid Torrent Sites
Please avoid torrent sites as much as possible. There is no such thing as free software. As tempting as it might be these kinds of files are packed with malicious software.
If you’re running a business and you have several computers. Can you imagine the cost associated with a virus spreading to each pc?
Pirated software, movies and music is just not worth it.
4. Always Buy Genuine Software
Buying a legitimate copy, comes with far more benefits. These include software updates, added features and most of all security patches.
5. Avoid External Hard Drives and Flash Drives
Letting anyone insert a flash drive or an external hard drive into your usb port is a terrible idea.
You don’t know that person’s online habits and you don’t know what’s on his devices.
Rather download the software you need from the internet and avoid these devices as much as possible.
6. Avoid Using Public Networks
Hotels, airport and other public areas are full of people browsing the internet.
These are by far the most dangerous networks you can find. These are breeding grounds for hackers trying to access your data, logins and passwords, etc
You never know who is doing what and how many different devices may be sharing malicious software.
As nice as it is to have free internet services, please never use these networks for anything to do with money or finances.