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Everybody knows what a computer virus is. Well, they think they do. “Virus” is a generalized term that applies to viruses, Trojans, worms, keyloggers, and more. Not all viruses let you know they are present, and some can stay hidden for days or years waiting for a specific date before they will become active.
1. Pop-Up Ads
This is probably the best known type of virus, because it gets in your face. While you’re surfing the Internet, random pop-ups will open. Sometimes this is a virus, but usually the cause is a piece of software that you installed. There are applications all over the Internet that are willing to let you try them for free. You just have to install a little application on your computer, and now you can have a cool screen saver or get weather updates with nice-looking graphics. These companies allow you to load their software for free and take over some of your Internet searching. This virus is no longer common because the more popular browsers allow users to shut off pop-up ads. The virus may still be on your machine, but it can’t do what it was designed to do.
2. Infectious Friends
This is one of the most common viruses out there. It has many names and many different ways to infect, but it has one purpose: to transfer the virus on your computer to your friends. According to USA Today, computer users should remain diligent in checking their “Sent” e-mail folders and should watch their social network postings. If users notice that messages have been sent out and they weren’t the ones who sent them, they should contact their friends and warn them not to click on any links within the messages.
3. Computer Acting Sluggish
This can be a tough one to catch. This type of virus usually has an application running in the background. This application is utilizing extra computer resources, causing it to slow down. If you know how check the processes running on your computer and you know how to remove programs, you may be able to stop it. However, if it is well designed, it will have hidden files that will cause the virus to come back after it has been deleted.
Viruses that change the users’ settings can be very tricky. Laptop Magazine reports it may be something simple like changing the home page on your browser, and this is true, but that is usually only part of the problem. The virus may also have gone in and changed some of your settings — you may only be able to go to certain sites, or the Ctrl-Alt-Del command to enter the Task Manager may not work.
5. Computer Lock
This can be a bit scary. This is usually part of a greater virus, but it is maddening. You suspect you might have a virus and have decided to shut off your computer, restart it, or, for the more tech savvy, return to an earlier restore point, but you can’t. You try everything and find you must shut off your computer by killing the power. You lose unsaved information, and when the computer restarts, the virus reactivates itself.
Many of the viruses out there can be prevented by following McAfee’s antivirus tips. Of course, nothing can stop them all, and they are always evolving. The best way to protect your assets is to save often. Have an external backup device to store all important documents, and have multiple antivirus programs to catch the computer virus at any time during the backup process — it does you no good to store the virus to your backup.
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.