We have all had the feeling at some point that our computer wasn’t running right or that something might have gotten into it that shouldn’t be there. Sometimes the problem is obvious. If, for example, you turn your computer on and your desktop is covered in ads, it is a reasonable bet that you have a virus. But some signs aren’t so obvious. Some of the problems caused by viruses or malware could easily be confused with hardware malfunctions or user errors.
One of the more confusing problems caused by viruses is a user de-authorization. In this case, your password won’t work when you try to log into your system. It is easy for users at different points along the range of computer fluency to become confused about
why they can’t log in, and it isn’t necessarily obvious that a computer virus or malware can cause this kind of behavior.
Other signs that your computer may be infected include pop-ups that supposedly alert you to the presence of thousands of viruses and ask you to download an “Antivirus” program, disabled internet, or a browser that redirects you to sites that you aren’t trying to visit. Often these fake pop-ups will say things like “Your computer is compromised” or “Your computer may be infected.” If you receive a message like this, you should immediately close your browser, disconnect your internet, (on a laptop, you can probably just slide your wireless switch to off, or on a desktop, unplug it) clear your java temp folder, clear your temporary internet files, and run a scan using whatever software you have available. If this doesn’t work, you may contact support on this website or through your antivirus provider for more detailed procedures.
Another sign that something malicious might be lurking in your system is if
you begin receiving emails from your bank or credit card company asking you to confirm you account or something similar. You should also be careful if you visit a website that you have viewed before and it looks weird or different, especially if you have clicked through to the site from another location or an email. Check the url bar and see if there is anything funny about the domain name or prefix.
Some forms of spyware and malware can also add unwanted toolbars or “favorites” to your browser, or suspicious icons to your desktop. Others can make your cursor look or behave strangely or create pop-ups even though your internet is disconnected or off.
If you think you have a virus and your antivirus program isn’t picking it up during scans, try contacting your antivirus provider for information on other steps you can take. If this doesn’t work, you can try to find an online virus/malware scanner, but pay attention to the fine print. Some services will do a scan for free but won’t remove anything unless you pay them.