Is your computer infected with a virus, spyware,
adware or other malware?
The following symptoms may indicate that your computer is
infected with viruses, spyware, adware or other malware (sometimes also called
- Computer became slow or it gradually becoming slow
- A program you work with may close its window by itself
- When you type something a delay occurs letters appear on
- You can see a lot of hard drive activity even when you are
not working on the computer
- Computer may lose internet connection
- Internet connection is very slow or much slower than usual
- It takes a long time to send or receive e-mails
- When browsing the Internet, you see a message “this page
cannot be displayed” much more often than usual
- You cannot go to many web sites of well known anti-virus
- You may get lots of pop-ups (pop up windows) that open up
on their own, even when you are not browsing the internet.
- Your home page has changed to some funky web site and you
cannot change it back.
- When you browse the Internet, you see more messages than
usual telling you that “your computer is not protected” and they try to
sell you something.
- Some programs may crash with a message “this program has
performed an illegal operation”
- Computer may reboot (restart) by itself.
- Restart (reboot) takes much longer than usual.
- Computer often not responding (freezes)
- You are getting lots of undelivered e-mails that you have
- Your contacts receive e-mails from you that you have not
What is a computer virus?
A virus is a computer
program that exploits vulnerability of your computer’s operating
system (or another program) to get control over your computer.
Once it gains control, it installs itself on your computer and
waits for a certain condition to do whatever harm it was
designed to do. While it is waiting, it usually does a lot of
work trying to replicate itself to infect more files on your
computer or spread to other computers the same way it got into
yours. It may send e-mails from your computer to people in your
address book or sometimes it can even infect other computers on
the network without even sending them any attachments. Also a
virus could get into your computer if you forget an infected
floppy disk in the floppy drive and then computer tries to boot
from it when you restart your computer. When your computer is
infected, it usually becomes very slow. Often users become
concerned when their computer becomes very slow, but they do not
fix it right away, thinking that if nothing is lost at the
infection time, they likely won’t lose anything later. They may
experience a bigger problem later when situation deteriorates or
when a condition matches some criteria programmed in the virus
and it can destroy an operating system or user’s data. Depending
on the technique used, a virus can be a Trojan Horse, a
worm, a boot virus, a macro virus, a network virus and so on. The main difference between a computer virus and other harmful
programs, like spyware or adware is that the virus replicates itself and
infects other computers automatically.
What is Spyware?
Spyware is a stand-alone program or a component attached to
another program that monitors and reports what you are doing on your computer
to those who made it. Information about every web page you visit, combined with
the information from millions of other victims, may be sold to marketers.
Someone may even obtain information about the fields that you type into
unsecured web forms. There is a debate whether keyloggers belong in the spyware
category or not. If we assume that they do, for argument sake, then spyware can
record every single word that you type on your keyboard and every program that
you use and this information can even be e-mailed automatically to those who
implanted such a program on your computer. Some people say that they do not
care about privacy because they do not have any secrets. While it may be true,
they do not realize that any spyware harms your computer, at least slowing it
down and at most destroying your operating system and possibly your data.
What is Adware?
Spyware is a stand-alone program or a component attached to
another program that feeds your computer a stream of annoying popup ads. These
popup windows may appear even when you do not browse the internet. If you have
adware on your computer, you would often have extra search bars and when you
search for something, adware may offer you unwanted advertising instead of relevant
results. Developers of such programs get paid by advertisers. Adware is mostly
illegal so advertisers who partner with computer crooks would often advertise
illegal or unsafe products. If you see an offer too good to be true, do not
follow it. For example if you are told that you just won a laptop or a big cash
prize in a lottery just by visiting someone’s web site, use your common sense,
do not believe it for a second.
What to do?
There are many free and commercial antivirus anti-spyware,
anti-adware, anti-malware software products. You’ll find hundreds of them if
you search on Google. Many of them can clean up the found viruses, spyware and
adware. Some of them are completely free, some of them will scan for free and
tell you if they found anything or not, but if you want them to clean-up what
they found, they may require you to pay them over the Internet. CAUTION! BEWARE
of products that claim to be a cure for viruses, spyware, adware or other
malware while in fact THEY ARE exactly what they claim to save you from! Or
sometimes they just collect money from naïve internet users showing you some
progress but actually doing nothing. Any list of such products (unless
regularly updated) would become outdated very soon. Many products come and go.
Some become better with time, some lose their edge after a while and you may
end up wasting your time. This advice can really save you from further
problems: please research first, read reviews from different sources about any
product before trying it on your own. The learning curve while trying these
programs may give you unforgettable experience, or, as with anything else, you
may just hire professionals.
Who Can Help?
You may want to call someone local who stays current, knows
all these things inside and out and may help you to avoid reinstallation of Windows
or loss of your data, saving you from lots of frustration. Most of such
services won’t troubleshoot it for you for free over the phone, but these guys,
for example, are pretty good, friendly and can come on-site to your office or
home to fix it for you. Their number is 604-GET-HELP, it is 604-438-4357 and their
web site is www.604-GET-HELP.com
They go anywhere in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver, North Vancouver, West
Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley,
Delta, White Rock and so on)
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