Symptoms of Having a Computer Virus
There’s an old expression that states: “There’s a reason that pencils have erasers.” It’s another way of saying that nobody’s perfect. A modern version of that saying could be: “There’s a reason antivirus software programs have cleanup tools.”
No matter how advanced an antivirus software program is, malware can still slip through all the defenses. Mostly, this is because cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to get past the best antivirus programs.
Whether a person is looking to purchase antivirus software to rid their computer of viruses, or because they think their current protection solution isn’t doing the job, it’s important to know what the symptoms of having malware on a computer are.
Here are some examples of some symptoms that may be caused by a computer virus:
- A computer program disappears from its memory, especially if there is no known removal of the program.
- Unfamiliar music or sounds unexpectedly starts playing through the speakers.
- Icons appear on the desktop unrelated to any programs that are currently being installed, or new icons seem to appear when no software has been installed.
- An antivirus program will not run, or a new one will not install properly or at all.
- Previously installed antivirus programs will suddenly disable and can not be restarted.
- Files that have been recently opened suddenly have more than one extension, such as .exe, .vbs, .gif, or .jpg.
- Dialog boxes and menus seem to be distorted or different.
- Unusual error messages will pop up.
- Items are not printing correctly.
- Disk drives or disks become inaccessible.
- An application or applications are not working correctly.
- The computer isn’t running as well as usual, or the computer reboots on its own.
- The computer restarts continuously.
- The computer locks up frequently or stops responding.
- The computer seems to be losing processing speed.
Worms and Trojan horses
Although viruses are different from computer worms and Trojan horses, they have the ability to carry viruses and deposit them onto a computer. Here are some of the symptoms of an attack by a virus or a Trojan horse:
- One of the contacts in the computer user’s address book mentions that they received an e-mail from the user that they don’t remember sending. The e-mail may contain a link, or it came with an attachment with extensions such as .scr, .bat, .vbs, or .exe.
- After opening an attachment from an e-mail (especially with an extension listed above), there is a sudden drag on performance of the computer, or dialog boxes and error messages begin to appear.
- The computer begins to operate as if someone else is controlling it remotely.
- Software that the user did not install on the computer may suddenly appear.
- The hard disk may be reformatted, which will delete programs and files.
- Everyone in the user’s address book receives an e-mail with the infected file.
- All the free space on a hard disk is taken up after an infected file replicates itself.
Take caution with symptoms
All of these symptoms may be caused by viruses, worms, or Trojan horses; however, it’s not the only thing that may be causing some of the individual symptoms. Some of the symptoms may be because of faulty hardware or software. Or, they may be caused by overburdening the processes (running too many programs at once) or the disk space (too many files on the computer). Or, an older computer just may be wearing down with age, and/or not keeping up with newer software and operating system.
To be sure of what is wrong with a computer, consult with a computer expert.
There are several steps a person can take to make sure these symptoms do not appear on their computer. These include:
- Modify behavior – Most cybercriminals depend upon the ignorance of novice computer users to perpetrate their crimes. Become educated on how cyber attacks can happen. Never open an e-mail from an unfamiliar sender, and never forward on any chain-type e-mails. Never give away login and password information, even if it seems to be coming from a reliable source. And if a claim on a Web site sounds too good to be true, it probably is – and is probably hiding a cybercriminal.
- Use reputable antivirus software – As mentioned before, even the best antivirus software programs are fallible. However, they’re still the best method of preventing malware attacks. They’re also hand if malware does pass through, especially if it comes with removal and backup systems.
- Keep computers update – Make sure that all software, especially operating system software and your preferred Internet browser, contain the most up-to-date patches and updates. These are usually published to keep computers safe from the latest known threats.
Having a multi-point plan that involves various layers of protection is the best way to stave off attacks of viruses and other forms of malware.