By the late 1980’s, computers were becoming increasingly popular and almost immediately computer viruses arrived on the scene like a plague of destructive locusts. No one is celebrating the fact that computer viruses have now been around for over 28 years. Especially considering that over this time there have been a number of viruses that have wreaked havoc worldwide. The key to combating the ongoing threat of malicious computer viruses is a combination of vigilance and protection. Since computer viruses aren’t going away anytime soon, Computer Troubleshooters wants to help you stay safe by providing information about how these viruses spread and how to protect your computer.
What is a Computer Virus?
The defining characteristic of a virus is that it’s a self-replicating program that has become installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge or consent. It’s a secret program that is typically hidden within the code of another known program. Once that program is activated, the virus begins infecting the computer by inserting its own replicating code within files. The bad news is that viruses spread quickly. The symptoms of a virus can range from a completely non-responsive computer to spontaneous crashing and corrupted data. A virus can also delete everything on the hard drive, use the email program to spread itself to other computers and display annoying messages on the screen.
How Does a Computer Become Infected with a Virus?
Computer viruses spread across the Internet through online downloads of infected audio and video files. Frequently, viruses are contained within illicit software that is downloaded from the Internet. Viruses also come disguised within e-mail attachments, via instant messaging messages, and are contained within images and digital greeting cards. This is why computer users should never open an email attachment unless it comes from a known source. Even then, be on guard. Recently, Computer Troubleshooters warned our clients to be aware of CryptoLocker, a virus that hijacks computers with a demand for $300 in ransom. This virus was delivered via e-mails that appeared to be from a reputable companies, versions include organizations such as UPS, FedEx, Australian Banks, the Australian Tax Office, & the Australian Federal Police. Even if you get a message that seems legitimate, proceed with caution.
What is the Cost of Computer Viruses?
Worldwide computer viruses cost billions of dollars’ worth of economic damage each year due to systems failure; wasted computer resources; identity theft; lost, stolen and corrupted data; increased labor and maintenance costs; in addition to untold amounts of anxiety, frustration and lost hours trying to remediate the damage. Internet usage continues to grow at a rapid rate, so a virus can start spreading globally within minutes. Plus with the advent of Smartphones, viruses now have more portals and can travel even further and faster.
What’s Your Protection Plan for Computer Viruses?
At home and at the office, continue to be vigilant about Internet downloads. Remember to be cautious about opening unknown e-mail attachments and always “Stop. Think. Connect.” Stay alert and be proactive by educating your employees and family members about appropriate security precautions. Additionally, keep your computer current with the latest updates and antivirus tools. Even with those safeguards, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that you are totally protected because there is no existing software that is able to catch every new viruses that pops us.
Computer Troubleshooters Can Help with Anti-Virus Protection
If you believe that your computer is infected with a virus, contact Computer Troubleshooters for assistance. Additionally, we strongly recommend an annual anti-virus protection assessment for your business and home computers. Computer Troubleshooters is happy to offer security recommendations and help you develop an anti-virus protection plan.