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Facts You May Not Know About Computer Viruses

You hear about them everywhere, malevolent techno-organisms that can infest your computer and turn it’s insides to mush. When the word “virus” is mentioned today, some people will immediately associate the word with “computer”. That’s how high the profile of computer viruses has become.

Of course it’s not all hype. Computer viruses really do represent a serious threat to personal and business computers. They can do considerable damage that can only be undone with a computer repair. Viruses can also infect and corrupt data files, leading to corrupt and unreadable documents that require a data recovery expert to retrieve. As many data recovery services in New Jersey state on their websites, thousands of people suffer virus attacks on their computers annually in that US state alone.

Today’s article attempts to remove some of the mystery surrounding computer viruses and the damage they can do. Read on and get to know your Trojans from your worms.

What Is a Computer Virus?

A virus is a program, or piece of computer code, designed specifically for the purpose of causing harm to computer files. The threat presented by these malicious programs can range from an annoyance, to major operating system damage and data loss. In the worst cases, professional computer repair and data recovery are the only ways to retrieve files and fix the damage.

What Types of Computer Virus Exist?

There are a number of different types of virus, which can be categorized by the parts of your computer system that they attack and their intent.

A worm is a type of virus designed to replicate itself and spread from computer to computer. Unlike a virus, which needs a computer user to execute a program for it to become active, a worm can tunnel through and between computers under its own steam. Worms often carry some form of payload, such as a backdoor into your computer, allowing someone else to effectively take control of your system.

A Trojan or Trojan horse is malicious software disguised as a legitimate and useful program. Once opened though, the program can start doing damage to your computer. Some Trojans just place silly icons on your computer desktop, others record your keystrokes and computer activity, with the intent of stealing sensitive information. Trojans can seriously damage files on your computer, making them unreadable so the only way to retrieve them is through data recovery measures.

In November of 2013, “News 12 New Jersey” ran a story on their website about the appearance of “Cryptolocker” a Trojan which encrypts files on affected computers and then demands money for the decryption. In his comments for the article, Ocean County Detective James Hill called the Cryptolocker Trojan “one of the worst he’s ever seen”. Hill went on to say that anyone who accidentally opened the file should take their computer to a New Jersey data recovery service or computer repair shop.

A boot sector virus is made up of code which attacks your computer’s master boot record (the files which allow your computer to start up its operating system). If your computer is attacked by one of these viruses, it will no longer start up.

A file virus as its name suggests, attacks files on your computer. This type of virus can go after individual files or attack entire programs. A macro virus infects Microsoft Office documents and is generally activated when you open an infected document. Multipartite viruses attack both the master boot record and your computer files.

Finally, polymorphic viruses can change their own code after infecting a computer. This makes them more difficult for antivirus software to detect.

How Do Viruses Access a Computer?

Most commonly, viruses get into a computer as email attachments. The cleverest ones don’t even need the attachment to be opened. Just opening the mail itself can infect your computer. Other ways in which viruses infiltrate is via internet downloads, especially from peer-to-peer file sharing sites.

What are the Symptoms of a Virus Attack?

When your computer becomes infected by a virus, the symptoms can vary, some of the characteristics of virus infection are:

Your computer starts to slow down, taking longer to open files and perform tasks

Your computer freezes or crashes

Your computer restarts itself

You become unable to access your disk drives

Programs that you run start to display strange behavior

Your computer starts to display unusual error messages

Documents don’t print correctly

Screen menus start to appear distorted

Of course other problems may cause the above symptoms too. If you are not sure whether your computer has been infected by a virus, have a computer repair expert check it out for you.

How Can Computers Be Protected from Viruses?

There are a number of steps you can take to guard your computer against virus attacks.

1. Keep your computer operating system updated. Install all new updates as they are released by the software vendor.

2. Install antivirus software and keep it regularly updated.

3. Use the scanning function of your antivirus software to run full disc scans regularly. Also scan emails e-mails and files as you download them from the internet.

4. Make sure you have firewall software installed on your computer and that it is activated.

5. Delete emails that look unusual, or if you don’t recognize the sender. Don’t even open them.

6. Avoid using peer-to-peer networks for downloading files.

By following all the steps above, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the threat of virus attacks. Even so, new viruses are appearing all the time, so even with the best defenses, there is a slim chance of some malicious code making its way into your computer.

What Can I Do if My Computer Has Been Infected?

To avoid worsening the situation with an infected computer, it’s best to hand it over to a professional to diagnose and get rid of the virus for you. If you do have a virus problem and are looking for a specialist in computer repair and data recovery in New Jersey, give Dave’s Computers a call on 908-428-9558. Dave and his team are experienced in virus removal and will diagnose and fix your machine at an affordable price.

by David Molnar