Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Do You Know if Your Computer is Infected?

How do you know if your computer is infected by a virus?  Before getting started there is one important item to note!  Viruses in the last few years have changed from a more destructive nature to a money making/data mining operation.  This is important to note because most viruses are no longer causing visible damage (data loggers) or are masking there actions (fake anti-virus).  One more thing to note as well, computers have gotten significantly faster; so, a virus may no longer cause a noticeable reduction in performance.

The easiest way to determine if you system is clean, is to perform a virus scan using your anti-virus software.  Alternately you can also do a scan using an online virus scanner such as Symantec's Security Check: http://security.symantec.com/sscv6/WelcomePage.asp.   This of course is not a guarantee that your system is clean but would most likely enable you to eliminate a viruses as a possible cause of popups or a slow down.

Listed below in no particular order are some problems that are commonly associated with a virus.

  • Popups (internet popups) – this is not a good indicator of a virus, since a popups can be easily generated within a website.  However, numerous popups of questionable “content” may indicate an infection.
  • Slow Performance – with modern computers this is not as noticeable; but if you have an older computer, a virus (or viruses) can cause a major slow down.
  • Sudden change in Internet Settings – this is actually a fairly good indicator of a virus, especially if the home page changes to something questionable and some sites suddenly stop functioning.
  • You cannot access anti-virus related sites or install AV software – definitely a good indication of a virus.
  • An anti-virus program that claims you are infected with a zillion viruses and other such antics – a good indication that you have a virus!  In fact it is such a good chance you have virus, that the program that says you have a virus is probably the virus!
  • Your ISP calls you up and says you are sending way to much spam email – yes, this does happen!  And yes, this most likely means you are infected with a virus!
  • Numerous unrelated error message – definitely a possibility that you have a virus.
  • Unable to access system utilities such as task manager, msconfig, control panel utilities, ect. – a high possibility that you have a virus.
  • Windows no longer boots or suddenly shuts down – use to be a good indicator, but with the changes in viruses, it is no longer a good indication of a virus.

This list definitely does not list all of the possible problems a virus can cause!

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