Signs your computer may have a virus
Jul 11, 2012, 8:48 a.m.
Sometimes, our computers take on such bizarre behavior that it makes us sit up, scratch our heads, and ask, "Does my computer have a virus?" If you've asked this question lately, here are a few tips that will show you how to check for a computer virus in your PC.
Every day, thousands of viruses, websites containing malware, and botnets are released into the internet with the intent of infecting personal computers like your own. Among other nefarious deeds, these viruses steal personal information and passwords, purposely corrupt files, hijack your email and send out spam messages, and wreak general havoc on your computer system. There are several signs that could tell you that computer's safety has been compromised. These include...
- Lags and reduced speed: This is often one of the first signs that there's an unwanted bug in your system. If your computer suddenly struggles to open files, navigate the internet, or even shuts itself down on startup, it might be time to make sure your anti-virus program is updated and run a computer scan.
- Sudden freeze-ups: This can happen to your entire computer, or it can also happen to individual programs and web browsers, making it all but impossible to close them and forcing you to reboot.
- Mysterious pop-ups: Remember when your pop-up blocker used to work? If you're suddenly getting unexpected and unwanted pop-ups on your screen, it's probably time to check for a computer virus. Often, these pop-ups will try to pass themselves off as alerts from your anti-virus software. Never click on them! Instead, close the pop-up and open your anti-virus software. If the pop-up was a legitimate alert from your anti-virus software, you'll see it here as well and be able to take appropriate action.
- Programs launching without your consent: This can happen with programs you know and trust, or programs you had no idea were even on your computer.
- Emails you didn't send: If your friends and family are telling you they've received strange email messages from you that you don't recall sending, this is a sign that you may have been hit with a virus known as a "Trojan Horse." If this happens, be sure to log back into your email account and change your password, choosing a secure one that contains a combination of numbers and letters, making it much more difficult for a hacker to crack.
- Vanishing security systems: If your firewall anti-virus software disappears or becomes disabled, this is most certainly a sign of a virus.
If your computer is showing any of the signs above, it's imperative that you make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and engaged. If running a virus scan doesn't yield any results or fix the problem, your next step is to contact a local computer repair shop to take a closer look.
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