A COMPUTER VIRUS is a program or code that is capable of copying itself or directly causing harm to the computer. By self-replicating it inserts itself into programs, documents or email attachments using up valuable data space, gradually slowing the computer down to a halt. This can be transmitted through emails or downloaded files. Some of the viruses currently afflicting computers worldwide are being sent as fake emails, deceptive downloads and scam websites.

Virus alert

Most recently Facebook users have been targeted with fake notification emails that infect computers with malicious software. This is a particular problem for users of Google Chrome browser. Users are tricked into downloading software by clicking on a link in the email. Initially, it appears to be a harmless extension of Chrome, but later on opening it the computer is exposed to the malware.

In the last week another virus scam is making its way around the computers of Paris. The scam involves a fake news story with attention grabbing headlines. On clicking it leads to the website medianewsworld.com where clicking or downloading anything will infect your computer.

The .Zepto virus is the latest ransom plaguing the globe. It is a new version of the former well known Locky ransomware. Ransomware is malicious software designed to stop the user from accessing data files on their computer. It seizes the victim’s computer files and encrypts them thus preventing users from reaching their data. File names are changed and a ‘ransom note’ is delivered on the desktop with instructions on how to receive the decription key after payment. Accompanying this are also blackmailing, and other extortionist strategies.

Early signs of a Virus

Viruses can be quick to attack your system from the moment it is exposed to your computer. In some cases they are not obvious immediately, instead they only become recognisable later. They quietly work their way through the system, until it is too late. Some of the early signs of a virus may include;

• The computer is running slower than usual
• Lots of pop-ups
• Strange problems cropping up e.g. CD-Rom tray opening up by itself
• Computer freezes
• Computer crashes
• Slow start-up
• Missing files
• Disc space suddenly quadrupled
• Unusual error messages

How to protect your computer

If there are signs of a computer virus it is usually too late. Your only hope is that the damage was not irreversible!

To protect your system from virus attacks;
• Do not open emails from unknown senders, or any attachments that you do not recognise.
• Use a firewall
• Use internet privacy settings
• Clear browsing history regularly
• Use a pop-up blocker
• Update software
• Have a good antivirus program installed is critical to preventing attacks.

Antivirus software vary in their capabilities and your needs and budget will dictate the program of choice. Ensure that you renew your software license on time, and always update it or alternatively set it to update automatically. If you are not sure about any of the above then consult a knowledgeable IT advisor.

CLS Computers offer a comprehensive service to keep your system safe. If your computer is acting strangely or its performance is poor then we can offer advice on your requirements for the right virus software, virus health checks and removal. If it is already under a viral siege then we may still be able to remove the virus but more importantly retrieve and keep your data safe. We can also give additional advice on how to improve your system’s performance.

For further information on Virus Health Checks & Technical advice call us on 0121 5542327.