What is a computer virus?
A computer virus or malware is a commonly used term to describe all types of malicious software, including Trojans, worms, adware, and spyware. Each have slightly different functions, but usually either try and damage the software on your computer, or send information about your computer usage to an outside source over the internet. The details of each type are explained below:
Types of computer viruses
How can my computer become infected?
Unfortunately, there are many ways your computer can become infected. Some of the main causes of an infected computer include: illegally downloading music and movies, clicking on ads, browsing to compromised websites, and in general not being cautious when it comes to web browsing. Be sure to follow the safe browsing habits and remember, it's always better to be safe than to be sorry.
What are the symptoms of a virus?
There is a wide variety of virus symptoms that differ based on what type of infection you have and how far the virus has progressed. A list of common symptoms is listed below:
- Speed decrease
- Unexplained freezing/crashing
- Programs that won’t launch
- New programs won’t install
- Computer has trouble booting windows
- Internet access is blocked (completely or certain sites)
- Desktop/appearance/screen saver and other visual settings are changed unexpectedly.
- Unable to open files or folders
- Files or folders are deleted unexpectedly.
- False pop-ups that appear to warn you about viruses
- Deteriorating condition over a period of a few days to a few weeks (viruses that download more malicious software as time goes on)
- Unable to print documents
- Your hard disk runs out of free space (this comes from an infected file making copies of itself)
How can I protect myself?
- For a personally owned computer, use ClamXAV and Windows Defender/Security Essentials. If your computer is district owned, please talk to your computer support for assistance.
- Keep your computer's operating system up to date using Windows Update or Software Update on Mac.
- NEVER use file sharing programs to download games, music, movies, TV shows, etc. A large majority of the files shared on this network are infected.
- NEVER click advertisements on the Internet.
- NEVER give anyone your password.
- NEVER respond to SPAM.
- READ all warnings very carefully.
- EDUCATE yourself, your friends and family about infections.
- NEVER click OK or cancel warnings like this:
How can I scan and remove a virus infection?
The first order of business is to get anti-virus software. Students and faculty can download ClamXAV and Windows Defender/Security Essentials for free, but the protection shouldn't stop there. We also recommend downloading other virus scanning tools, here at the OSU Computer Helpdesk we often use, Malwarebytes which is available for free.
After obtaining the software, you simply run the program and have it scanned for viruses. A good habit to exercise before each scan is to double check that the software's definitions are up-to-date. In order to update the definitions, there should be either a tab or button that relates to updating the software, e.g. "Check for Updates online."