Computer Virus Got You Down - What To Do

“Boy, is my computer S L O WWW.” “Some of my programs don’t run at all.” “The internet just crawls.” Have you experienced these problems?  One person purchased a new computer because the old one was so slow. In a couple of weeks the new computer was slow too. It wasn’t the computer, it was computer viruses.

Where do they come from? Most folks today still think that viruses come from teenagers sowing some wild oats, kind of like kids spray-painting graffiti on a bridge, toilet papering a house, or putting dish soap in a public fountain. But not so.  According to TechNewsDaily, much of the virus threat comes from organized crime in the U.S., Russia, China,  and North Korea., and it is a billion dollar industry.

How do they make their money? Viruses or BotNets can bombard unprotected computers with pop-up ads. It just amazes me that people buy stuff that they see on a virus generated pop-up ad, but they do – bunches of it!

Other BotNets are designed to watch what you do with your computer. They look at where you go on the internet, how long you stay on an internet site, and where you go next…, without your knowledge or permission. This data is sent to and collected on websites. Companies buy this data and use it to optimize their websites in order to make their products and services more attractive and accessible. Over time, your computer may attract hundreds of BotNet viruses that can tie up computer resources and monopolize your internet bandwidth, making your speedy computer run like a sloth.

Still other BotNets scourer computers for personal information that can be used to empty bank accounts and max out your credit cards.

How do they get on my computer? On Windows computers, the number one method for computer infection is a computer that does not have the latest Microsoft updates and patches. WebBots crawl the internet looking for such computers. Once found, they exploit the unpatched vulnerability, install themselves, and go to work infecting your computer. 

The number two way to infect a computer is to convince the computer owner to infect himself. Deceptive emails are sent promising jobs, love, or a little internet humor. These emails usually carry an attachment that packs a lethal virus payload OR a link to a website that installs the virus. Once installed, the virus will disable your antivirus, then it will open a “back door” on your computer and download other viruses. Next it will propagate itself by using your email software to send the virus to your friends and family, while it collects sellable data. What Rotten Scoundrels!

How can we protect ourselves from Viruses?

1. Use a good antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. All of the expensive brands work, and there are some free antivirus packages, like AVG Free and AVAS, that will do a good job too. The key is, keep the antivirus software up-to-date by using the automatic function within the software!

2. Install the Microsoft patches and updates. Windows has an Auto Update function that can be turned on so that updates occur without you doing anything. Turn it on and use it!

3. Handle your email with care. If you receive something from somebody you don’t know, why look at it? If the email is a “get rich quick” scheme, or looks like it is too good to be true, it probably is, and may be a virus, too. And most importantly, do not click the attachment or link.

4. Also, look closely at email you receive from friends and family. If the email is out of character for what that person usually sends to you, it may be infected with a virus.

Even folks that do all the right things get viruses occasionally. If you get a virus, simply turn your computer off and call an expert. Acting quickly will help minimize the damage caused by viruses. There is no reason to live in fear of viruses. Simply following these suggestions, use a little common sense, and your computer experience will be enjoyable, productive, and virtually virus free.