Is your computer infected with a virus, spyware,
adware or other malware?

The following symptoms may indicate that your computer is infected with viruses, spyware, adware or other malware (sometimes also called badware).

  • Computer became slow or it gradually becoming slow
  • A program you work with may close its window by itself
  • When you type something a delay occurs letters appear on the screen
  • You can see a lot of hard drive activity even when you are not working on the computer
  • Computer may lose internet connection
  • Internet connection is very slow or much slower than usual
  • It takes a long time to send or receive e-mails
  • When browsing the Internet, you see a message “this page cannot be displayed” much more often than usual
  • You cannot go to many web sites of well known anti-virus vendors
  • You may get lots of pop-ups (pop up windows) that open up on their own, even when you are not browsing the internet.
  • Your home page has changed to some funky web site and you cannot change it back.
  • When you browse the Internet, you see more messages than usual telling you that “your computer is not protected” and they try to sell you something.
  • Some programs may crash with a message “this program has performed an illegal operation”
  • Computer may reboot (restart) by itself.
  • Restart (reboot) takes much longer than usual.
  • Computer often not responding (freezes)
  • You are getting lots of undelivered e-mails that you have not sent
  • Your contacts receive e-mails from you that you have not sent

 

What is a computer virus?

A virus is a computer program that exploits vulnerability of your computer’s operating system (or another program) to get control over your computer. Once it gains control, it installs itself on your computer and waits for a certain condition to do whatever harm it was designed to do. While it is waiting, it usually does a lot of work trying to replicate itself to infect more files on your computer or spread to other computers the same way it got into yours. It may send e-mails from your computer to people in your address book or sometimes it can even infect other computers on the network without even sending them any attachments. Also a virus could get into your computer if you forget an infected floppy disk in the floppy drive and then computer tries to boot from it when you restart your computer. When your computer is infected, it usually becomes very slow. Often users become concerned when their computer becomes very slow, but they do not fix it right away, thinking that if nothing is lost at the infection time, they likely won’t lose anything later. They may experience a bigger problem later when situation deteriorates or when a condition matches some criteria programmed in the virus and it can destroy an operating system or user’s data. Depending on the technique used, a virus can be a  Trojan Horse, a worm, a boot virus, a macro virus, a network virus and so on. The main difference between a computer virus and other harmful programs, like spyware or adware is that the virus replicates itself and infects other computers automatically.

 

What is Spyware?

Spyware is a stand-alone program or a component attached to another program that monitors and reports what you are doing on your computer to those who made it. Information about every web page you visit, combined with the information from millions of other victims, may be sold to marketers. Someone may even obtain information about the fields that you type into unsecured web forms. There is a debate whether keyloggers belong in the spyware category or not. If we assume that they do, for argument sake, then spyware can record every single word that you type on your keyboard and every program that you use and this information can even be e-mailed automatically to those who implanted such a program on your computer. Some people say that they do not care about privacy because they do not have any secrets. While it may be true, they do not realize that any spyware harms your computer, at least slowing it down and at most destroying your operating system and possibly your data.

 

What is Adware?

Spyware is a stand-alone program or a component attached to another program that feeds your computer a stream of annoying popup ads. These popup windows may appear even when you do not browse the internet. If you have adware on your computer, you would often have extra search bars and when you search for something, adware may offer you unwanted advertising instead of relevant results. Developers of such programs get paid by advertisers. Adware is mostly illegal so advertisers who partner with computer crooks would often advertise illegal or unsafe products. If you see an offer too good to be true, do not follow it. For example if you are told that you just won a laptop or a big cash prize in a lottery just by visiting someone’s web site, use your common sense, do not believe it for a second.

 

What to do?

There are many free and commercial antivirus anti-spyware, anti-adware, anti-malware software products. You’ll find hundreds of them if you search on Google. Many of them can clean up the found viruses, spyware and adware. Some of them are completely free, some of them will scan for free and tell you if they found anything or not, but if you want them to clean-up what they found, they may require you to pay them over the Internet. CAUTION! BEWARE of products that claim to be a cure for viruses, spyware, adware or other malware while in fact THEY ARE exactly what they claim to save you from! Or sometimes they just collect money from naïve internet users showing you some progress but actually doing nothing. Any list of such products (unless regularly updated) would become outdated very soon. Many products come and go. Some become better with time, some lose their edge after a while and you may end up wasting your time. This advice can really save you from further problems: please research first, read reviews from different sources about any product before trying it on your own. The learning curve while trying these programs may give you unforgettable experience, or, as with anything else, you may just hire professionals.

 

Who Can Help?

You may want to call someone local who stays current, knows all these things inside and out and may help you to avoid reinstallation of Windows or loss of your data, saving you from lots of frustration. Most of such services won’t troubleshoot it for you for free over the phone, but these guys, for example, are pretty good, friendly and can come on-site to your office or home to fix it for you. Their number is 604-GET-HELP, it is 604-438-4357 and their web site is www.604-GET-HELP.com They go anywhere in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Delta, White Rock and so on)

 

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