I Think I Have A Virus!
I hear these words often: “I think I have a virus!” But how can you know for sure? In this month’s article, I’m going to give you some tips to help you figure out if you do have a virus (or some other type of malware) and what to do if your computer is infected. But first, let me clarify some of the computer lingo and jargon that the average person may not understand when it comes to “computer viruses.” People often use the term “computer virus” to indicate that they believe their computer is infected with some sort of malicious program that should not be there. While this may be the case, the correct terminology is actually “malware.” A computer virus is but one form of computer malware. A computer may or may not actually be infected with adware, spyware, a worm, a rootkit, a botnet, or a trojan. All of these fall under the category of malware which, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “software designed to interfere with a computer’s normal functioning.” So you might have a virus, but you might also have one of the other forms of malware.
But what is the best way to check and see? I would start by using a good anti-virus program (which are all really anti-malware programs) to scan your computer. If you do not currently have an anti-virus program installed on your machine, then I recommend you either get the free version of Avast or download the 30-day trial of Kaspersky. Once it is downloaded and installed, be sure to run updates for the program so that it can have the latest list of definition files (which the program uses to reference code against known malware). Then I would do a “full” or “complete” computer scan and wait for the results. If the program finds anything, then I would follow the prompts given to disinfect and/or quarantine the problems that it finds. Next, you can download the free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-malware. Update that program once it is installed, and then run a full/complete scan of your computer with it. Follow the prompts that it gives.
You should now know with a high amount of accuracy whether your machine is infected with a form of malware. If you are infected, then hopefully the infection was removed by the tools that you used. If you still find yourself having problems or the infections persists, then I recommend that you get a computer specialist to take a look and see about cleaning your machine.
Below are a few additional tips:
1. Purchase anti-virus programs through Amazon where the cost is usually half that of the vendor’s website.
2. Always run some sort of anti-virus program. If money is tight, then I recommend Avast’s free version. If you can spare $30 a year, then I highly recommend Kaspersky’s products.
3. The free anti-virus program that Microsoft provides with Windows (Security Essentials / Windows Defender) have poor reputations for stopping and removing malware, so I would avoid them.
4. URLs for the products mentioned in this article:
- Avast: www.avast.com
- Kaspersky: www.kaspersky.com
- Malwarebytes: www.malwarebytes.org
Travis is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery where he studied Business Administration with an emphasis in technology management. He has been helping people to better understand their computers and technology for over ten years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.