A computer virus is a software program that interferes with the working of your system and spreads from one system to another system. A computer virus can corrupt or delete data on your system and can even delete everything on your hard disk. It usually uses an e-mail program to spread to other computer systems.
How does my System get infected with Virus?
You can get computer virus through the following sources:
- Attachments in e-mail messages
- You can get a virus in the form of funny images, greeting cards, videos or audio files.
- Unknown downloads on the internet
- Through pirated software
- Clicking on inappropriate advertisements
- Installing free games, toolbars or system utilities
- Visiting infected websites
- Connecting infected external devices to the system
Effects of Computer Virus
Once a virus has entered and infected your system, you could experience one or all of the following effects depending on the virus:
- Replication of Itself
One of the main motives of a computer virus is to infect as many computer systems as possible. To do this, the virus replicates itself by getting attached to other files on your computer. It usually does so by sending emails having infected attachments to everyone in your contacts list.
- Degraded Computer Performance
A virus can drastically reduce the performance of your system and the computer becomes less responsive than usual. When a computer is infected with a virus, its boot time is highly reduced than usual and applications also take much longer to launch. With the entrance of virus, the system also starts crashing and freezing frequently.
- Corrupted Data
Viruses can corrupt the entire data on a computer. The virus does so by either attaching itself to files which makes these files unusable or by maliciously destroying the data.
When you attempt to launch installed applications, you may also receive error messages that either the file is not found or it is not valid. In some cases, it can lead to the operating system not getting started due to missing or corrupted files.
- Unusual Browser Activity
It usually is very common to receive pop-ups while on surfing the internet, but if you are repeatedly receiving the pop-ups on your browser, it could be due to a virus.
When your system is infected with a virus, the virus might also change your browser homepage to a webpage that contains malicious code. The virus can also block access to some security websites. Viruses often attempt to install more viruses on your computer by displaying links which are disguised as system messages. Use a good adware removal tool to remove adware from your system and prevent such pop-ups.
- Modification of Files
If you see new and unknown files, folders or software programs on your computer, it is a sign of computer virus. Computer viruses can also cause modification of files on your system’s hard drive or other writable media. Modifying the files of a computer system can cause an operating system to stop functioning. Modifying software can also disable a computer system’s firewall or security software. These modifications are done to enable easier remote access to a PC.
- Unexpected System Behavior
Computer viruses can also lead to random and surprising behavior of a computer system.
You may experience the following unusual effects:
- A computer’s mouse pointer either stops responding or starts to jump around the screen.
- Unexpected graphics or applications may appear on your computer screen, especially in multiple windows.
- The infected computer may restart unexpectedly or display weird error messages.
How to Protect your System from Virus?
The only solution to never get a virus on your computer is by keeping the computer disconnected from the internet and switched off. This is obviously not a practical solution.
Hence, you must incorporate the following safety measures to prevent viruses and reduce your risk of getting infected with a computer virus:
- Keep your OS (Operating System) up-to-date always. Apple, Microsoft and Linux release OS updates on a regular basis. Keeping your operating system updated will prevent majority of known threats.
- Keep all your web browsers updated. Most of the web browsers have an auto-update feature that allows you to update your web browser automatically. Popular browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Edge (previously known as Internet Explorer), all of them receive regular browser updates.
- Keep your software applications updated. Software programs such as MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, Flash, etc. are highly targeted programs due to their large user base. So, always keep all your installed applications up-to-date.
- Never download and open e-mails attachments from unknown senders. Also, don’t click on unknown URLs in emails that you receive from suspicious senders. These attachments and URLs could be malicious and could lead to virus on your system.
- Browse safely on the web and never run untrusted websites.
- Install a good malware removal tool and best anti adware programs to prevent virus and other malware infections.
Swati Jain is working as a Technical Writer at Innovana Thinklabs. She specializes in writing content for software applications on various platforms which include Windows, Web, Mac, iOS, and Android. She loves to research and write about the latest innovations in technology.