Ah, the dreaded computer viruses! We’ve all heard about their evil powers: they range from simple pranks like pop-up messages on your screen to complete destruction of programs or data. And they’re getting slicker by the hour, trying to trick you, outsmart your antivirus program and take advantage of the security holes caused by software vulnerabilities. You definitely don’t want one getting into your precious computer!
So how can you tell if you've got a virus infection?
If your antivirus software is effective and up to date, you’ll probably receive a message saying that the application has found a virus on your PC and has, hopefully, got rid of it. But what if your antivirus is not that efficient, hasn’t been updated in a while or is simply something you never thought you actually needed?
There are some signs of infection you can watch out for:
Your computer stops responding or locks up frequently.
You get strange error messages saying that, for example, you cannot access certain drives.
Your PC runs much slower than it used to.
Your computer crashes and then restarts every couple of minutes.
Some applications won’t run, some files won’t open.
Hardware devices (like your printer) no longer respond to your commands or start acting out.
Some menus and/or dialogue boxes look odd or distorted.
There are fluctuations in the size of some files, although you haven’t accessed them in a while.
Your firewall warns you that unknown applications are trying to connect to the internet.
Your internet connection stops working or becomes very slow without there being a problem with your service provider or router.
You notice files that have been deleted, encrypted or moved to a different location.
The language in certain applications suddenly changes.
New icons appear on your desktop out of the blue.
Strange sounds or music start playing from your speakers unexpectedly.
Your CD-ROM drive tray opens and closes by itself.
The unused space on your hard drive disappears.
Your computer opens internet sessions or applications on its own.
Your web browser displays pages you haven’t requested.
Library files for running games or programs go missing.
What to do if you suspect a virus is running loose in your system:
The first thing to do is turn to your line of defence: the antivirus program. If you’re using a traditional, signature-based antivirus, make sure it’s active and properly updated and scan your computer. If your antivirus program doesn’t find a virus, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got none. But there’s no need to go searching for it yourself. Just look for another antivirus solution to run on your computer and spot the problem. You can find a free BullGuard Internet Security trial here.
If it turns out a virus did get by your antivirus, chances are it hit exactly between the updates or it’s so new, its signature hasn’t been detected yet. This is where state-of-the-art virus detection technology comes in handy and that’s what you get by using BullGuard Internet Security – the best in behavioural detection, the latest technology in the fight against new and unknown viruses. Behaviour-based detection is what makes BullGuard catch 65% more malware than traditional antivirus programs.
How to avoid virus infections in the first place
You can prevent most viruses from entering your system by practicing a few computer and internet safe habits:
Make a habit out of playing it safe. Pay attention to what you download and where you download it from. Never open attachments from sources you don’t know or trust. Don’t connect other people’s USB drives to your computer, even if they’re your friends, as they could have a virus infection without realizing it.
Always have an active and updated antivirus program installed on your computer. The more effective and modern it is, the better it will protect you against the waves of malware hitting the web every day.
Make sure all your other software is up to date. Vulnerabilities in the programs you use, like your operating system, are like unlocked backdoors for viruses, so it’s crucial to have them solved by getting constant patches and updates from the software vendor. Some of them are downloaded automatically, but others need your attention and that could turn into an annoying task. So give yourself a break and use a vulnerability scanner – like the one included in BullGuard Internet Security – to take care of your programs for you.
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