How do I know if my computer has a virus?
Viruses may not always make themselves known right away, which is why regular (weekly at least) scans of your entire computer by anti-virus software are important. But there are warning signs that may indicate the presence of a virus within your computer. These include:
- Unusually slow performance
- Unfamiliar applications running in the background
- Password(s) that no longer work
- Peripherals (for example; mouse, drives, printers) that act strangely or independently
- Corrupted data
- Unexplained email activity
What do I do if my computer has a virus?
Simply receiving an email containing a virus will not necessarily result in your computer being infected. Often the virus requires that you open an attachment or run a program for it to be activated. If you believe that you have received a virus as an email attachment, do not open it. Instead, delete the email it arrived in and empty your folder that contains deleted material. Never forward an attachment unless you are sure that it is safe.
If you believe that your computer is infected by a virus, you are advised to do the following:
- Use your anti-virus software to run an updated anti-virus scan (or contact your Internet Service Provider to obtain anti-virus software)
- Alert anyone you have recently sent an email attachment, that they may be infected
- Unplug your computer from your modem to prevent transmission of personal data and virus replication
How did my computer get infected?
Viruses often arrive as email attachments but they can also be unintentionally downloaded if you click on infected web sites or counterfeit pop-up ads. They can also be embedded within pirated software or shareware, or downloaded via various chat sites or file sharing sites. Other viruses can exploit network weaknesses to infect vulnerable computers on a network. In other words, there are many ways to acquire an unwanted virus.
Can my computer infect other computers?
Absolutely. The only way to prevent an infected computer from infecting others is to use anti-virus software to locate. Identify and permanently delete the virus, or to remove your computer from any network (such as the Internet) to which it may be connected.