In the field of computers, a virus is simply known as a computer program that has the ability to copy itself and infect a computer – not so simple, viruses work in ways that are unique to its type. Surprisingly though, viruses that infect humans and those that infect computers pretty much perform the same task although they are not the same kind, of course!
Spyware, on the other hand, is a type of malware that creeps into your computer, collects bits and pieces of information without the user’s knowledge and then transfers it over when you are connected to the internet. This can be a problem because unlike most viruses, spyware is very difficult to detect.
You may be hit by a virus or spyware and would have no clue. So how, do you prevent it from happening? Simple! You first have to learn the basics of how your computer functions and take precautions; such as having an up-to-date antivirus on your computer at all times. Computers are not humans and they do not have mood swings. But, if your computer is being reluctant to help you out, it could be because it is not “feeling too well.”
Here are the 3 methods to detect symptoms infection
1) Does your computer take “forever” to start up? This could mean two things. One, you have overloaded your computer or two; your computer has a bug, the latter being most common. If your computer is infected with spyware, when you start your computer up and it is taking an unusually long time, this could mean that the spyware on your computer is also starting up. One way to check for it is to open Start > Run > “Msconfig”>Startup and check the applications on startup, if you notice anything you don’t recognize in the list, it could be malware. Even though this method is not “written in stone”. It’s one way to figure out what is wrong with your computer. Any unusual delays in computer startups should not be taken for granted.
2) When you are connected to the internet, does the browser crash on you and a brand new browser you have never seen before pops up? If this happens to your computer, it’s a sure sign that your computer has a spyware. This only happens because your browser has been hijacked resulting in its crash and followed by a modification of the page to represent a malicious page that you don’t want to proceed into any further. If this happens, try to safely close out of the browser or simply disconnect yourself from the internet ASAP.
3) Is your CPU usage at 100% all the time? This is a common viral infection on your computer. 100% usage would also mean that your computer is running extremely slow. To trouble shoot the problem, simultaneously press the “Control + Alter +Delete” keys on your computer and this should open up your task bar. If it does not, bingo! Your computer is infected. If the task manager does open up, go into the processes tab and arrange the processes in the order of CPU usage and figure out which application is taking up most of the CPU usage. If the identified application does not seem to be something you remember installing or something common (has a weird name) then it could be a virus.
So how do you stop viruses and spyware from infecting your computers? Well, truthfully, you can’t. We all have to pay a price for the advancements in technology. Sure, it does make our lives easier, but it still has its setbacks. Remember though, “prevention is better than cure”. If you are not too computer savvy, have a computer technician install the necessary antivirus guards and antispyware programs that could save you from being a victim to dangerous viruses and people just waiting to get into your computer.
Murtaza "Murri" Shabbir-Hussain, Senior at UW - Chemical Engineering/Chemistry From: Colombo, Sri Lanka