What Is a Computer Virus?

In today’s connected world, it is hard to find anyone who hasn’t experienced a computer virus at some point, but what exactly is a computer virus? At Smart Parts PC, we frequently have customers ask us this question. With the continued evolution of viruses, the answer gets continually more complex. Computer viruses can cause long-term issues with your device. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your system. If a virus does take control, then there are also repair options available. The first step in avoiding viruses, however, is understanding the answer to this common question: what is a computer virus?

“Computer virus” is an umbrella term.

In a general sense, a computer virus is a program that changes the way your computer works. Typically, computer viruses are developed with malicious intent. The term itself is an umbrella term that refers to many different types of infections that your computer can encounter. These include malware, ransomware, adware, Trojan horses, and keyloggers.

Each type of virus is designed with a different goal in mind. Ransomware, for example, is a virus that encrypts all of your files. This allows a third party to hold them for ransom. If this happens to you, the third party will demand a payment in exchange for allowing your files to be unencrypted. Adware causes pop-up ads to appear repeatedly. These ads lead to websites that will cause further infection of your computer. Keyloggers create records of all of your keystrokes, including credit card numbers and banking log-in information, which can then be used to steal your identity or money.

You could have a computer virus and not know it.

Computer viruses frequently lie dormant on a computer, so you could have one on your system without realizing it. When the virus is embedded in your system, you have to complete an action that causes the program to run, allowing the virus to replicate itself and spread throughout your system. You can easily activate a virus with one wrong click, which is why you should always be cautious when opening new links and downloading things from unknown sources.

If you do activate a computer virus on your system, it will spread to other devices on your network. The impacts can simply be irritating in some cases, but in other instances, viruses can lead to significant damage to your device, financial loss, exposure of private data, identity theft, and more.

There are steps you can take to avoid computer viruses.

It is always recommended to have a virus protection program on your computer. These programs can identify viruses before you inadvertently activate them or alert you in the early stages of an infection so that you can reduce the impacts. For instance, a virus protection program may alert you to a ransomware attack before all of your files are encrypted, so that you can salvage some of your data and stop the infection.

Being cautious while using your computer will also help. Stick to opening links and downloads from known people and reputable sources. Only enter personal information on websites with security certificates. Exercise caution when using a public, unprotected network.

If you get a computer virus, help is available.

Even with your best efforts at protecting your computer, getting a virus is still possible. If you do have a virus, take your computer into a shop like Smart Parts PC to have the virus diagnosed and removed by an expert. This is the best way to minimize the impacts of the virus and get your computer back to normal.

Computer viruses can cause a long list of symptoms, like slow performance, incessant pop-up ads, unintended shutdowns, and password changes that you didn’t make. Sometimes, the signs aren’t specific, but you simply notice that your computer is acting strangely. When this happens, bring your device to Smart Parts PC. Our computer experts will secure your device and return it to its usual performance. For assistance with all of your computer repair needs in Tucson, call us at (520) 468-2320.