What is a Computer Virus?
We’ve all heard of the dreaded computer virus, but what’s just as important as awareness is understanding exactly what a computer virus is and what it means for your computer. A digital virus operates similar to a virus that affects your body – it’s a program that spreads malicious code by copying itself and infecting host computers. Just like a biological virus disrupting your everyday functions, a computer virus relentlessly replicates to infect your programs and files until it has completely altered the way your computer operates, or it stops your system from working all together.
Different viruses are programmed to do different things. Some damage program operation, delete files, or reformat your hard drive. Others replicate themselves with such volume that they flood your network and make Internet activity impossible. Less deadly computer viruses disrupt system performance, which can deplete computer memory and cause frequent computer crashes. Some viruses are sneaky and can infect your system without you ever knowing.
Knowing the symptoms of a virus can help you save your computer before it’s too late. Look for slow computer performance, erratic computer behavior, unexplained data loss, or frequent system crashes.
How You Get Computer Viruses
A very important factor in preventing computer virus infection is understanding how viruses infect your computer in the first place. Even the most careful internet user can still unknowingly invite a virus into their system, so knowing exactly what to look for can help increase your likelihood of avoiding any and all malicious files.
The most common way viruses infect computers is users accepting pop-ups on their screen without reading the full prompt. For example, while browsing the Internet a window appears telling you a specific plug-in is required to run the page. You accept the prompt without fully reading the pop-up, and a virus has successfully infiltrated your system.
- Malicious Downloads
Downloading and sharing infected programs and software is another common way for viruses to infect your computer. Music, photos, games, demos, toolbars, etc. all have the potential to carry malicious code, so always ensure you download from a reliable source.
- Fishy Emails
You should never open emails that come from a questionable source. Anything you weren’t expecting to receive or that seems fishy in any way shouldn’t be opened and should be immediately deleted. Hackers and malware creators are notorious for embedding their malicious codes in email attachments, so be wary of anything suspicious in your inbox.
While viruses are smart, they can be outsmarted. These aren’t the only ways for viruses to infiltrate your computer, but understanding how your computer can become infected is the first step in preventing system failure. Viruses are also incredibly common on websites such as movie pirating websites or websites advertising things such as free game and program downloads, so be weary of any website that doesn’t seem reliable or seems too good to be true.
Possibly the most important aspect of virus protection is arming your system with the best security software. Antivirus software protects your devices from viruses that can cause potential data loss, crash your device, or allow spammers to send emails and messages from your accounts. Good virus protection software scans files and emails for potential malicious content and strips the content before it can cause harm to your system. Next, antispyware software protects against software, installed on your computer without knowledge or consent, that monitors online activity and collects personal information. Finally, firewall software blocks human hackers from entering and using your system.
Managing three security systems can be overwhelming, but luckily Integracon offers managed antivirus solutions. Never worry about malicious files infiltrating your system with our 24/7 monitoring by a team of technical experts that ensure you receive any and all necessary updates and regular reports to keep you updated on all things cyber security. Let Integracon take care of your company’s critical assets and information, and rest easy with total peace of mind knowing all servers, workstations, and laptops are always protected.