Viruses and their many forms are extremely common issues for computers, they come from many different sources and do just as many different things. This should give a general idea of how to avoid getting a virus and the best way to deal with it if you do.
What is a Virus?
A virus is an infectious program that gets installed onto your computer without your permission and sometimes exist on your computer without your knowledge. Viruses come in many different forms and can do a vast array of different jobs. Some viruses can be nearly completely harmless being more of an annoyance than destructive. These cause popups on your web browser as well as producing ads where they normally wouldn't be, or by installing programs without your permission. Others are more malicious and dangerous, these are called Malware or Malicious Software viruses. Malware Viruses have the purpose of stealing personal information from your computer while others serve to delete all the files from your computer. Thankfully as scary as viruses are they can be prevented and removed.
How does my computer get a Virus?
Viruses hide themselves in dozens of ways for the hopes of getting onto as many computers as possible. Emails from people who you know but look suspicious and unlike anything that they would send you such as offering some sort of random sale or deal, or even if the email just says to open an attacked file it is best to err on the side of caution. Web browsing can also result in getting a virus, by clicking ads on the sides of websites or by going to certain websites you can have a virus installed onto your computer without your knowledge.
Other viruses try to get onto your computer with your permission by disusing themselves as an application you do want to install. This happens if you download an application or file from a website that is made to look a lot like the real thing. The best way to tell if this is the case is to check the URL at the top of your web browser, sometimes they will be a .com instead of a .url or .org, other times they will have purposefully misspelled addresses with a capital i ( I ) instead of a lower case L ( l ) or other misspellings. Most of the time these fake website offer free software that would normally cost money, such as Microsoft Office or Photoshop, and claim that it is a "Free Version", so always make sure it is from the actual company.
How do I avoid getting a Virus?
While there are plenty of ways to get a virus they are extremely easy to prevent. The best way to avoid general viruses is to have an anti-virus program such as Microsoft Security Essentials that can scan your computer for threats and remove them as they are found. Other ways is to make sure that your internet security settings are on so that popups are blocked and websites have to ask for permission do change anything, this is the usual default for most web browsers. It is always best to have a cautious eye out for anything suspicious, and if you do viruses are very easy to avoid.
What does a Virus infected computer look like?
If a computer has a virus there are several key signs that should raise possible red flags. The most obvious of all the signs of a virus are if applications you have never seen before are on your computer and if popup randomly appear on your web browser. Sometimes your web browser will have a new search engine (such as conduit or search protect) and a new homepage, these are also signs of some non-malicious viruses. Other times it could be as simple as your computer running very slow and applications refuse to work properly or open, however remember a slow computer and not working applications does not always mean it is a virus.
How do I get rid of a Virus?
Regardless what kind of viruses you have no matter how malicious it is always best to remove the virus as soon as possible. Viruses are designed to spread themselves to other computers, install other viruses, and hide themselves as best as they can. Most anti-virus programs will be able to catch and remove the majority of viruses, but these will be the least malicious types of viruses. Any application installed by a virus can also be easily removed by uninstalling it as you would any other program.
However if at worst there are some viruses that need a deeper remediation that an anti-virus program cannot catch, for this you will want to contact Computer Services to see how they can best help you remove the virus from your computer.