If you have ever wondered how you would recognize if your laptop or PC has a virus, check out the following list. It provides a few indicators that may suggest your desktop PC or Laptop has been infected:
- You may notice that your computer is suddenly running much slower than you recall it doing before, programs may take a long time to open and opening web pages may be delayed. It might suddenly take a long time to start up your machine.
- Your keyboard and/or mouse might start behaving oddly. Different characters may appear when you try to type and programs you haven't clicked on may open.
- Your computer may completely freeze and be non-responsive to your efforts to escape and ctrl + alt + del. Your keyboard and/or mouse may not respond.
- When you log into your usual search engine, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome, your home page may have changed into something you don't recognise. This could be a search engine that you don't recall installing.
- You may be having a 'blue screen of death' regularly. This is when the computer crashes and the error code is displayed on a blue screen. This is not necessarily a characteristic of a virus but can be an indicator of one, it is best to get 'blue screen of death' errors checked out by an IT technician.
- Your web browsing may be interrupted by annoying pop-ups, this is referred to as Adware and can be very distracting when trying to browse the internet.
- There may be a program running that you don't remember installing, sometimes viruses are disguised as security software programs and will pop-up error messages on your screen warning you that you have a virus. If you clicked on one of these error messages, you would typically be directed to a web-page asking for payment to clear the 'virus'.
- When starting your computer, you may discover a page displaying an FBI warning or a page claiming to be the British Police, this is known as Ransomware. These viruses have been known to take a photo of you using your own webcam to display on the screen designed to frighten you. The warning will ask you to make a payment to free your system.
Sometimes viruses can be obtained through downloading files and software, opening spam emails and through visiting certain webpages. There are a number of viruses circulating the internet today and it has been suggested that there are up to 50 new viruses being released every week. Laptop and PC infections are commonly known as Trojans, ransomware, spyware, keyloggers, rootkits and zombies to name but a few. Collectively, these terms are referred to as malware.
Malware in its creation is designed to be non-detectable and non-removable. They easily bypass anti-virus software to corrupt your system and files. Nowadays, malware can self heal if an attempt to remove or disable it is made. If malware has made it's way onto your system once, it is more likely that you will be infected again as malware creators may sell access to your machine.
When you purchase a brand new computer, it comes preinstalled with over 250,000 files and another 700 files will be added each and every time you install a new program. This provides a large number of hiding places for malware to remain undetected. Unfortunately this means that removing and uninstalling malware and viruses is not 100% failsafe, some are far more difficult to remove than others. The only way to completely insure a machine is safe following a serious malware infection would be to completely reinstall the operating system.
The best way to be safe online is to only install software from reputable sites, make sure you read all of the installation stages so you don't accidentally agree to installing toolbars and other such undesirables. Don't open emails from sources you don't recognise, if the subject is offering you lots of money it almost certainly is too good to be true. Choose an antivirus product to ensure you remain protected whilst browsing the internet.
If you believe you have been infected by a virus then you should disconnect your internet connection, remove any external devices such as CD's, DVD's and USB's and contact a local PC and Laptop repair specialist.
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