Computer viruses have been the scourge of Windows computing for a long time now. Viruses can:
- slow down your computer to a near standstill
- make your computer unusable
- extort money from you in return for "liberating" your computer
- attempt to access personal information aimed at identity theft
- attempt to access information on your friends, clients, children
- corrupt your data and/or hold it hostage
- force your computer to act as an agent to infect other computers
- invite their friend viruses onto your computer
Viruses have become more sophisticated over time; but, so has antivirus software. The best advice is still to
ensure that you have a good antivirus program installed and keep your eyes open and exercise caution.
Even then, the best of computers can fall victim to infection.
Look for the following common signs of an infection:
- a message pops up notifying you of some bad news (e.g. you're infected (yeah), you're in
trouble with the law, your hard drive is about to crash, etc.)
- when you do a web search, lots of odd and seedy-looking results are returned
- your browser starts crashing a lot or otherwise acting funny
- new icons appear on your desktop, new files that you didn't create, etc.
- your computer turns itself off on its own or logs you out
- other odd behavior - browsers opening on the own, CD trays opening, blue screens
Viruses never go away on their own. If you believe that paying the criminals off will cure your virus problem, then
you're unusually trusting. Tackle it yourself or get help, but don't let the infection fester. It will only get worse.