Just What is a Computer Virus?

Just What is a Computer Virus?

It is like catching the cold virus, it is spread by other people through bacteria, reproducing until the system is infected and sick. It is one of the most common computer repair issues that are out there. No one wants a virus, it does not feel good, and they restrict your activity as well as keep people at a distance from you. The computer virus acts much like the biological virus in that it has the same effects, only it infects files and spreads electronically. In this article I will define the virus, explain how it spreads, and how to tell the difference between a virus and other forms of attacks.

The basic definition of a virus is a series of written instructions in a computer program that is designed to reproduce and infect another computer. It is programming code that’s purpose is to destroy another program. Most of the time a user will not?realize?that they have a virus because they can take the form of a regular program, or hide deep in your system files?unbeknownst?to anyone it is there.

Anti-virus programs have been fighting a never-ending battle with hackers, people who want to rip off and spread chaos throughout people’s computers. How do they spread? A real computer virus can only be spread by a human who inserts it into the target computer himself via floppy or disc, or even sending it over the internet.

The first “wild” virus, that is, a virus that appeared out of the computer lab back in the 70’s, actually attacked the Apple DOS system. Back then, the only way to really create a virus and have it spread was through hands-on work like inserting a floppy disk into a computer.

Viruses spread when they are attached to the .exe or executable file. Say you want to open a program that has been on your computer for a while, you trust it to work properly and it does. But a hacker hooks a virus to the .exe file that the next time you open the program the virus takes effect, damaging the files and ruining the program.

That is the main idea of a computer virus, to attach to a file (cell) and jumping to other files like it, until the computer is no longer usable. At Computer Geeks calls come in about viruses?or recovering a computer from an attack. So what can you do about it to prevent your computer even further than the anti-virus protection is.

When in doubt, and when your computer is definitely infected, choose the System Restore that was explained earlier in the November blogs. This will turn back the clock to a time when ?your computer was not infected. But hackers are getting smarter, making their viruses disable the Control Panel, or messing with the System Restore so that the computer gets restored to the same day the virus started.

The difference between the virus and other programs like adware, spyware, and malware, is that the virus spreads and reproduces. It is a catch-all phrase for all the bad stuff that happens on a computer. When something starts to go wrong, people think virus because it makes sense. But knowing exactly what is wrong with your computer can allow whoever you ask to fix it to do it faster and perhaps recover the files. And if you need help you can always call us at Computer Geeks

 

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Why am I infected with this virus?

Why am I infected with this virus?

Whether it’s Conflickr or a new fake anti-spyware program, it seems like spyware and viruses are inescapable for any computer connected to the Internet. It’s estimated that the amount spent annually on security software in the United States has risen to over $800 million in recent years, but computers are still getting infected daily. Why aren’t we virus free yet?

The answer lies in the nature of malicious programming. Computer viruses don’t spring up out of nowhere, they’re designed by programmers who either have nothing better to do and think it will be interesting, or professionals who make money by abusing your computer. Whenever anti-virus vendors are made aware of a new virus, they create a new definition for their anti-virus software to help isolate and remove that virus if it is downloaded onto your computer. Once the new definition is widespread enough that a significant percentage of computers are safe against that virus, a new one is created by the malicious programmers and the cycle begins again. Nearly two thousand new viruses were identified every day in 2007, and the problem isn’t going away any time soon. This is why you need to allow your anti-virus software to download new virus definitions so often.

Frustrated hackers tired of the rapid turnover of “regular” viruses have graduated to attacking your computer’s defences directly: your anti-virus software. Many new viruses include programming that either hides itself specifically from several popular anti-virus programs, prevents them from downloading new virus definitions, or shuts them down entirely. Even when these new viruses are identified quickly, many computers will already be infected and the software on the machines will be unable to remove the virus. In cases where one virus shuts down the anti-virus software entirely, other viruses will often infect the machine and can render it inoperable in a matter of hours if not minutes. Still other nasty viruses employ tricks to avoid removal techniques, and will re-infect a machine after an anti-virus program or a user tries to delete them.

The fight against computer viruses is non-stop, but you can do something to help protect your system. Installing a good anti-virus program and allowing it to update frequently is just the first step, but beware of fake anti-virus programs you may find online (many of these are viruses themselves). The fake anti-virus programs normally go by the names: Antivirus 2010 Pro, Windows Pro Police, System Guard? 2009, Personal Antivirus, Antispyware XP 2009, and many more. You can see a pattern in how they name themselves. Never download anything from a person or website you don’t trust, never open a suspicious email (you don’t always have to open the attachments to get infected), and don’t go to websites with a poor reputation. If you take these steps and your computer still gets infected, have a trained professional remove the virus for you instead of trying to remove it yourself. Modern viruses can be very difficult to isolate and remove, and it’s very easy to damage your system accidentally while trying to remove one.

If you’ve got a slow computer and think you’re infected, call Computer Geeks today. Our techs have the tools needed for proper virus removal and have access to fast breaking news about new types of viruses and their removal. Computer Geeks is a nationwide on-site computer service and repair company.? If your computer has any of the following problems, we can help: Slow computer, Virus or Spyware, Computer startup problems, Printer not printing, Not connecting to the Internet, Scanner not working, or the “blue screen of death”. We also offer other technical support services, including: New pc setup, Data Backup or Recovery, Wireless network setup, Business Network Firewall setup, Upgrading memory, cpu, hard drives, video cards, and more. You can pick up the phone at any time and call us at 1-800-GEEK HELP (433-5435).

 

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Is this a real anti-virus program?

Is this a real anti-virus program?

Over in the Computer Geeks office,? one of the more common problems clients ask us to assist them with are phony solicitations for anti-malware programs. When browsing the internet, users encounter bogus virus and spyware alerts that prompt them to input personal information:

  • Credit card #
  • Checking Account #
  • Social security #
  • Address and telephone #

These are more commonly referred to as “Phishing” viruses. Understandably, many of them are concerned about surrendering such sensitive information, worried that it?ll be used for purposes other than facilitating the purchase of software that will protect their system against malware.

Well, they?re right.

Our clients will? happen upon a website that spawns a number of pop-ups alerting them to the presence of viruses and spyware,? ending with a solicitation for the purchase of? non-existent anti-malware software. In response to these pop-ups, users usually attempt to close the windows, resulting in the emergence of even more pop-ups.

One of the more notorious nuisances of this sort is Antivirus 2009. Masked as a legitimate program that removes viruses, this annoyance infects the client?s system with spyware, inundating them with pop-ups that insist that they purchase an ?upgraded? version of software that doesn’t exist.

Similar bugs go by the name of:

  • Winantispyware
  • Antispyware Pro XP
  • Anti-virus Lab 2009

If you?re ever met with one of these pop-ups, do NOT click on anything ? do NOT close the window, click on ?No,? or type in a single field. If you?re taken to another website, do NOT click on any of the links.

Instead, Press CTRL-ALT-DELETE, which will bring up your task manager. When reviewing the list of processes, you will notice one that is linked to your internet browser. Highlight that process and click on ?End task,? a button located at the bottom of your task manager window. This will close your internet browser, including any pop-ups it has spawned.

While the pop-ups are momentarily done away with, simply terminating your internet browser will not completely solve the problem, as the source of the issue remains. If left unaddressed, the spyware will continue to see that you’re harassed by pop-ups each time you use the internet

This is one of many problems we regularly aid our clients with. If you’d like Computer Geeks to clean your computer of these pests, give us call at 800-433-5435!

Microsoft Security Essentials is the #1 Free anti-malware tool

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A few blog posts ago, I touched upon Microsoft Security Essentials’ recent accolades from AV-Comparatives, an anti-malware testing group that compares various anti-malware solutions and ranks them accordingly. As reported, Microsoft Security Essentials is one of just two anti-malware packages — the other being F-Secure Anti-Virus 2010 — that were rated “very fast” in every test category included in the company’s comparisons.

Adding to that initial honor, AV-Comparatives has also given Microsoft Security Essentials the award for the best performance of those programs tested.? Subjecting the competing anti-maleware solutions to a variety of tests derived from real-world scenarios — downloading, extracting, copying, encoding files, application launches, etc. — gave a? clear leader in Microsoft Security Essentials.

What became most noticeable was how little Microsoft Security Essentials demanded of a system’s resources, contributing to AV-Comparative’s decision to rank it as the best-performing anti-malware solution that you can get for free. Brisk performance in every major category, while being light on resources, is reason enough to give this highly recommended anti-malware program a look — particularly when you taking into consideration that it’s free, outpacing those solutions that cost money.

Proving its mettle against the competition, Microsoft Security Essentials is a great tool to protect your computer with.

Read AV-Comparative’s findings here.

If you’re interested in using Microsoft Security Essentials, you can find it here.

New Email Virus Threatens Facebook Users

A new variant of the ?email virus known as “Bredolab” has been identified and is spreading at breakneck speed through the Facebook user base. It appears as an email with the title “Password Reset Confirmation Email” and has an attachment that supposedly contains the recipient’s new Facebook password. The attached file is in reality a Trojan Horse😕 a small program that exists solely to download other programs onto your computer. The program hides its download activity by going through other programs that access the internet legitimately, so your anti-virus may not be able to notice when new files are being downloaded by this virus.

Cleaning up after viruses can be a time-consuming ordeal and even with professional assistance viruses can sometimes re-infect your computer from hidden files, so prevention should always be your first priority. Bredolab is a simple virus to avoid, just don’t open the attachment. Facebook would not send you a password reset confirmation email unless you asked to have your password reset in the first place, and such an email would never contain an attachment anyway.

You should already be protecting your computer with anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, along with a firewall to protect your network from other intruders. These protections are excellent ways to reduce the chances that your computer will be infected, but it’s important that everyone who uses your network also learn safe browsing practices as well. The most important rule of safe browsing: never open an email attachment unless you know exactly what it contains. Other important guidelines include avoiding sites that commonly host malware, closing all pop-up ads with the red “x” in the upper right corner, and never downloading any program from vendors you don’t know.

 

If you think you might be infected, or if you’d like more information about safe browsing habits and security software, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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