A computer virus is a program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses can also replicate themselves. All computer viruses are man-made. A simple virus that can make a copy of itself over and over again is relatively easy to produce. Even such a simple virus is dangerous because it will quickly use all available memory and bring the system to a halt. An even more dangerous type of virus is one capable of transmitting itself across networks and bypassing security systems.
It can be a nightmare scenario for any computer owner: your beloved machine begins to act strangely and before you know it, you’ve lost complete control and you realize too late that you have a virus. One of the “good” things about computer viruses is that, in most cases, you know immediately when you have one. While there is no complete list of computer virus symptoms, there are a few key things you can look for.
1. Home Page Redirects – We all know and love our home page, the Internet page that opens up automatically whenever we start our browsers. If you are noticing that your web browser is displaying a different page, one you’ve never heard of, on startup, however, chances are you have a virus.
2. Significant Slow Downs – Computer viruses eat up a lot of your system resources. If you notice that programs are loading slower, or they won’t open at all, and your hard drive seems to be running constantly, chances are, you have a computer virus infection.
3. Mid Browsing Redirects – Along with having a new home page chosen for you against your will, you may also notice that every 10 or 20 pages you visit automatically sends you back to one you never asked to go to in the first place. These automatic redirects are often a key sign that you have a bug.
4. Pop ups Everywhere – Most of us are used to getting pop up windows as we browse the Internet, but if you are getting them constantly, and they all seem to be for the same one or two websites, then you likely have a virus. Some bugs are so bothersome that you get pop ups even when you aren’t using a web browser.
5. Computer Lock Ups – With today’s lighting fast computer chips, lockups have, for the most part, become a thing of the past. However, if you are noticing that your computer suddenly becomes unresponsive, you are probably exhibiting computer trojan or computer worm symptoms. If this happens every time you run a particular program, try starting up in safe mode and running your virus protection right away.
6. Bizarre Error Messages – Most of us know what typical Windows error messages look like. If you begin to see pop up windows with bizarre or odd sounding error messages in them, try to copy down the message you see and then Google it. You’ll know soon enough if your computer is showing computer virus symptoms or if you have a program that just isn’t acting normally.
7. Fake Virus Scans – Often times, websites will use authentic looking, albeit fake, virus scans of your computer to make it appear that you are infected with hundreds of bugs. The “scan” will then tell you that you need to click on this link and download a computer virus protection software, which, in actuality, is just a pack of viruses. Ignore these scans and perform one of your own to see if you are showing computer virus symptoms.
8. Distortions on your Desktop – If you suddenly notice that dialog boxes, chat windows and other programs look differently than they did before, you either have a problem with your display, your video card or with a virus. Start by running your virus protection software and then move on to non-virus related solutions.
9. A Huge Increase in File Space/Decrease in Free Drive Space – One activity that viruses love is to replicate and to invite their friends over. You can have a computer with an almost empty hard drive, and then a moment later, have one that has run out of space completely. If you’ve gotten a warning about being out of drive space when you shouldn’t be, you are showing classic computer virus symptoms.
10. Huge Decrease in Download Speeds – Not only can a virus take control of your computer, it can hog your bandwidth, as well. Try restarting and resetting your Internet connection to see if your connection speed improves, if not, perform a virus scan immediately.
11. New Icons – Most of us can name the different icons that are on our desktop, but if you see icons disappear or appear that you don’t recognize, your computer is exhibiting classic computer virus symptoms.
The signs at times vary on device type so just be observant to your device to notice an unusual behavior.
Here is the list of common problems in a computer affected with viruses.
- Occurrence of strange messages, symbols or images appear on your screen.
- Strange things happen when you are doing routine work.
- The computer makes strange noises at inappropriate times.
- Files you know you saved are missing.
- The operating system acts slow, doesn't come on or just isn't working as normal.
- Files of executable extension such as .BAT, .EXE, .COM, .HLP, .DLL should never be accepted from others as they have the most potential to cause problems or be infected.
- All computer users should delete any unsolicited emails. We now know due to recent attacks that the Worms have begun to use Microsoft Outlook's address book, so it will appear as if a friend has sent you an email. If you are not expecting an email or the file name is different from the one you are expecting, delete the email and its attachment.
- Electronic Mail text messages cannot in themselves contain viruses. The text portion of a message is just text, and if read, does not contain damaging system codes. If, however, you receive an email message with an attachment, be very careful. File attachments, if executed, CAN launch viruses
List of common computer viruses
- OPRAH WINFREY VIRUS: Your 200MB hard drive suddenly shrinks to 80MB, and then slowly expands back to 200MB.
- AT&T VIRUS: Every three minutes it tells you what great service you are getting.
- MCI VIRUS: Every three minutes it reminds you that you're paying too much for the AT&T virus.
- PAUL REVERE VIRUS: This revolutionary virus does not horse around. It warns you of impending hard disk attack---once if by LAN, twice if by C:>.
- POLITICALLY CORRECT VIRUS: Never calls itself a "virus", but instead refers to itself as an "electronic microorganism."
- RIGHT TO LIFE VIRUS: Won't allow you to delete a file, regardless of how old it is. If you attempt to erase a file, it requires you to first see a counselor about possible alternatives.
- ROSS PEROT VIRUS: Activates every component in your system, just before the whole darn thing quits.
- MARIO CUOMO VIRUS: It would be a great virus, but it refuses to run.
- TED TURNER VIRUS: Colorizes your monochrome monitor.
- ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER VIRUS: Terminates and stays resident. It'll be back.
- DAN QUAYLE VIRUS #2: Their is sumthing rong wit your komputer, ewe jsut cant figyour out watt!
- GOVERNMENT ECONOMIST VIRUS: Nothing works, but all your diagnostic software says everything is fine.
- NEW WORLD ORDER VIRUS: Probably harmless, but it makes a lot of people really mad just thinking about it.
- FEDERAL BUREAUCRAT VIRUS: Divides your hard disk into hundreds of little units, each of which does practically nothing, but all of which claim to be the most important part of your computer.
- GALLUP VIRUS: Sixty percent of the PCs infected will lose 38 percent of their data 14 percent of the time. (plus or minus a 3.5 percent margin of error.)
- TERRY RANDALL VIRUS: Prints "Oh no you don't" whenever you choose "Abort" from the "Abort" "Retry" "Fail" message.
- TEXAS VIRUS: Makes sure that it's bigger than any other file.
- ADAM AND EVE VIRUS: Takes a couple of bytes out of your Apple.
- CONGRESSIONAL VIRUS: The computer locks up, screen splits erratically with a message appearing on each half blaming the other side for the problem.
- AIRLINE VIRUS: You're in Dallas, but your data is in Singapore.
- FREUDIAN VIRUS: Your computer becomes obsessed with marrying its own motherboard.
- PBS VIRUS: Your programs stop every few minutes to ask for money.
- ELVIS VIRUS: Your computer gets fat, slow and lazy, then self destructs; only to resurface at shopping malls and service stations across rural America.
- OLLIE NORTH VIRUS: Causes your printer to become a paper shredder.
- NIKE VIRUS: Just does it.
- SEARS VIRUS: Your data won't appear unless you buy new cables, power supply and a set of shocks.
- JIMMY HOFFA VIRUS: Your programs can never be found again.
- CONGRESSIONAL VIRUS #2: Runs every program on the hard drive simultaneously, but doesn't allow the user to accomplish anything.
- KEVORKIAN VIRUS: Helps your computer shut down as an act of mercy.
- IMELDA MARCOS VIRUS: Sings you a song (slightly off key) on boot up, then subtracts money from your Quicken account and spends it all on expensive shoes it purchases through Prodigy.
- STAR TREK VIRUS: Invades your system in places where no virus has gone before.
- HEALTH CARE VIRUS: Tests your system for a day, finds nothing wrong, and sends you a bill for $4,500.
- GEORGE BUSH VIRUS: It starts by boldly stating, "Read my docs....No new files!" on the screen. It proceeds to fill up all the free space on your hard drive with new files, then blames it on the Congressional Virus.
- CLEVELAND INDIANS VIRUS: Makes your 486/50 machine perform like a 286/AT.
- LAPD VIRUS: It claims it feels threatened by the other files on your PC and erases them in "self defense".
- CHICAGO CUBS VIRUS: Your PC makes frequent mistakes and comes in last in the reviews, but you still love it.
- ORAL ROBERTS VIRUS: Claims that if you don't send it a million dollars, it's programmer will take it back.
The list is actually long, but the ones listed are the most popular. One thing to know is: Computer Viruses are created, but can mutate, multiply, cross breed, hide, etc just like biological viruses.
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