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).



Staying Safe This Holiday Season

Yes, you have started to hear no doubt about the holidays and all it’s wonderful magic. No doubt you have also heard about being safe, usually in reference to too much drinking at those awkwardly awful family parties and the weather. But at Computer Geeks we want to key you in on more important matters: your computer safety.

How safe is your computer? If you use the internet you take the risk of catching a virus, like the cold it can be prevented if you take certain steps. No I am not talking about downloading the latest anti-virus software or the cool new tool that can fly around your computer like superman saving your files from the evil file corrupter.

I am talking about what is already on your computer, like your web browser whether that be Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome, that have the tools you need to protect yourself. You can find these tools in the ‘Tools’ menu bar located at the top of your browser. Look at ‘options’ on Firefox or ‘security zones’ on Internet Explorer. By telling your browser exactly what type of sites it is allowed to visit and the level of restriction, you are ensuring that you will be protected from spyware, unwanted advertisements, and those “drive-by” downloads.

You may have heard recently that there was a big “drive-by” attack that hackers did on IE6. What happened was that hackers were able to get into a certain website and make links using the sites name to another website, which people visited, and got screwed because just by being on the site malicious software and viruses were downloaded to people’s computers.They are still doing it on IE8, so be careful.

That is just one example of how easy it is for hackers to get into your system, simply by taking over a website and waiting for a user to walk aimlessly into the site, unaware that they will be regretting not listening to this blog and taking the necessary steps to prevent such a thing!

One of these steps involves securing your email, particularly in Outlook. A common pitfall that is easily overlooked is the text. You have two choices: HTML-Text, or Plain Text, which is better? It is not a question of better, but safer. HTML might look good, but in the long run it is dangerous because this is where all those phishing scams thrive on. By using Plain Text it disables the Active Content that opens email attachments automatically, and allows safer emailing.

Instant Messaging worms have become more and more vicious and prevalent in today’s internet world. Be careful when talking with your friends online, be wary of ‘Away’ messages, because if you are chatting with someone who sent you a malicious worm or virus masquerading as a link somewhere infected you could be in for a bad time. You can usually tell when a message like in email that is suspicious.

Hackers are always looking for new ways to get into your computer and screw things up. Do not allow them to, especially during the holidays when you should be out gallivanting around with your family enjoying the holiday spirit.

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


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.

Perhaps it’s time to try Firefox?

From creating spreadsheets to playing the latest games, we use our computer for multiple purposes, one of the most common being our navigation of the internet.? With the use of the internet occupying so much of our time, it stands to reason that we?d want to enhance that experience as best we can.

When it comes to internet browsers, there isn’t a more ubiquitous one than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Bundled with Microsoft Windows, the most widely used operating system in the personal computing market, Internet Explorer is the standard by default.? However, in spite of its widespread use, there are alternatives to Internet Explorer that are arguably more popular with the geeks amongst us.

Because of its de facto popularity, a result of being packaged with Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer has seen only incremental advances in how it functions. This lack of innovation has paved the way for competitors to release alternative choices which offer greater functionality and more reliable security for users browsing the internet.

Of those choices, my favorite is Mozilla?s Firefox.

Free and thoroughly customizable, Firefox is fast becoming the choice to which users are migrating from Microsoft?s problematic browser, its superior functionality immediately apparent:

  • Firefox includes helpful features that augment the browsing experience, such? as spell checking and saving sessions for those who accidentally quit the browser.
  • hundreds of plug-ins afford users a staggering level of customization for their browsing experience.
  • Though Internet Explorer now has tabbed browsing , which allows multiple pages to be opened within a single browser, Firefox? tabbed browsing is faster and easier to manage.
  • With the advent of malware, those bugs that creep along the porous byways of the internet highway, your computer remains at risk whenever you use the internet. When it comes to security, Firefox is unmatched, with seamless updates that keep you protected from vulnerabilities that leave Internet Explorer users subject to spyware and viruses.

While your internet browser of choice is a personal preference, there?s no denying that Firefox adds a bit more to the experience than Internet Explorer. Yes, Microsoft?s offering has certainly taken steps in the right direction, but much of its improvements were available in the first version of Firefox.

The functionality of Firefox may prove daunting to new users, but Computer Geeks is always available to show them how to get the best out of its use.

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