Virus!! Or Not.. How to Know When you have a Virus Infection.
Is this a Virus Infection Or just Software Malfunction?
Every computer owner in Kenya is afraid of Virus/ Malware infection.If my mother is anything to go by, at the first sign of any abnormal behavior on her computer she shouts Virus!!.Usually its some random thing as a Taskbar in the wrong place or documents she transferred to another folder and forgot! However, once in a while she is right, for despite how good an antivirus you have there will be the occassional virus scare in between antivirus updates. So how do you determine whether you have a virus infection or not?
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Tell Tales of a Virus Infection.
Even the most advanced of computer users will tell you that at times identifying for sure whether you have a virus infection can be a daunting task. This is simply because Viruses and Malware are authored by very good programmers and their operation maybe extremely masked and almost impossible to trace and stop.
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That being the case there are a few tell tale signs of a virus infection that either may occur singly or as a group.
Command prompt and Task Manager not working.
Among the major tasks of any virus is to ensure its not detected or if that happens it cannot be terminated by the user. The easiest way to achieve this is to ensure that the user cannot access the Task manager and the Command Prompt. This is akin to destroying your enemies infrastructure in war!(Both sides of the war on Malware borrow a few tips from real wars !).
Strange Pop Ups.
Another sign of virus infestation are random pop ups that bear weird messages. Weird in the sense that if you are working on a document you least expect a pop-up prompting you to buy the latest “Maruti Pickup”. Another instance of popups are those that freeze your entire screen and unless you restart your machine you are helpless.
Hair am in. That lot buy viagra judge and am are to.
Some pop ups have a close button,but clicking on them opens a webpage. Such are the many ways of pop ups and am nowhere near exhausting the different shapes they can take. Below is one.
Scary Looking Virus alert.
Don’t think all con men are on the street. This is one of the best viruses i have ever encountered. While other viruses are trying so hard to propagate themselves through automated mailing hijacks and stack overflow and buffer overflow procedures(Hard stuff i tell you) this one relies on the ignorance of computer users. And it is this basic approach that has made it such a dangerous virus.
I decided to give this virus specific attention as its exploits our fear for malware to infect your computer. Usually you will see a beautiful alert in the form of antivirus alert with all the bells and whistles informing you that 1000 viruses (Its usually such an alarming figure so as to trigger panic in you) have been detected and its awaiting your authorization to commence cleanup. You click on the “Clean” button as expected in that situation,without hesitation. That is when you shoot yourself in the foot.
So you might ask what to do in such a case? How do you know whether the alert is genuine? Simple. If you using Avira for instance as your installed antivirus don’t expect an alert from Kaspersky or Nod32. Also the chances of being infected by 10 viruses in one instance, if not 1000 are very low.
PC freezes for a moment then responds to your Commands or is suddenly slow.
This is a common sign of Virus infection. When you find your sentences being typed seconds after you have typed them on the keyboard beware of a virus infection. This is so especially when your machines is of high specifications and the behavior is totally unwarranted.
PC takes forever to shutdown and similarly to Boot/Startup.
If all of a sudden your PC is taking a long while to shut down and a similar or longer time to startup, virus infection might be the cause.
So what do i do if i suspect a Virus Infection?
If you suspect you have a virus try the following actions.
- Ensure you have a good antivirus(See related article on antivirus) and ensure its signature files are up to date.
- Ensure your operating system is up to date with the latest updates and patches.
- Turn off and remove unnecessary Windows services. The default installation of Windows requires a lot of additional services that you simply do not apply to the type of work, most people own PCs. For example, FTP services, Telnet services, web server service, etc.
- Do not use easy to guess passwords.
- Ensure you use a secure browser such as Mozilla firefox or Google chrome .
- Be careful what you authorize on the internet. Ensure that when ask for administrative permissions you know exactly what program is asking for the rights.
However much protected you are you will get infected by malware once in a while. However the extent to which the malware will disrupt your life will depend on the steps you have taken to guard your self against attacks.
Also not all abnormal computer behavior is a result of virus attacks, some is just plain old system failure.
Have a good time computing.