If your computer is loading slowly, deleting files, running suspicious programs, or filled with annoying on-screen pop-ups, you might have a virus. If so, the best course of action is to install a reliable antivirus software solution, reboot your system and run a full virus scan.
Stick around as we discuss how to find out if your computer has a virus, the year’s nastiest variants, and the steps you can take to get rid of them.
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10 signs your computer has a virus
As of 2022, there are more than 1 billion malware programs in circulation globally, with around 560,000 bits of malware detected every single day. While viruses remain a consistent and unyielding threat, there are ways to combat them and protect your system from online attacks. But before we get into that, we need to know the symptoms.
If you’re wondering, “do I have viruses on my computer” here are the ten tell-tale ways to help you find out once and for all.
- Slow running computer: programs freeze or take a long time to load;
- Screen pop-ups: including endless spam, error messages, unsolicited, unwanted ads, and redirects to weird webpages;
- Disappearing files: files get randomly damaged, deleted, and/or encrypted;
- Antivirus software not working: the program or firewall deletes or disables itself;
- Suspicious programs: consistently appear, along with toolbars/icons you’ve never installed;
- Email spam: with added attachments and/or links flooding your inbox;
- System blocking: you’re unable to access your settings, files, or system preferences;
- Battery draining: your computer overheats and/or quickly loses power;
- Homepage switching: randomly replacing and redirecting your homepage to other websites;
- Mass email send-outs: spam messages sent from your account to your contacts.
How does a computer get infected with a virus?
A virus will target your computer’s “immune system,” i.e., programs, files, memory, etc., and multiply. Though different, they all share the same core function – taking over your computer to extract money and information for identity theft, fraud, and other awful end games.
For the most part, viruses spread through executable files, downloads, and links. Some of the more common ways to pick up a computer virus include:
- Visiting an untrustworthy and/or infected website;
- Opening an attachment or link from an unsolicited email address;
- Downloading free plugins, games, media players, videos, or third-party software;
- Installing unvetted or pirated software applications;
- Conducting malware-ridden searches online.
Types of computer viruses
Viruses come in all shapes, sizes, and threat levels. Some will slow you down, while others will destroy your entire system if given half a chance. Here are some of the more “popular” computer virus types making their rounds in 2022.
An overwriting virus will copy onto executable files (.exe), slow down programs, and overwrite data in the process. The most common way this virus spreads is through, opening corrupted email attachments, or downloading movies, photos, and/or games from dodgy sites.
A Network virus doesn’t need a file attachment to spread like wildfire. It moves directly through online networks and replicates to destroy data, slow down performance, extract personal information, and similar.
Browser hijacker virus
This virus will alter your web browser settings and redirect you to sites you never intended to visit. These websites will then capture, store, sell or steal your personal information.
These viruses alter your computer’s governing rules and input patterns (macro language) to steal information and corrupt memory. A polymorphic virus is one of the hardest to combat as it frequently changes its code to avoid detection.
Virus archive: The ILOVEYOU virus hits the scene?
Here’s a fun (or, in this case, not so fun) fact: On May 5th, 2000, the ILOVEYOU virus was released into the world. The virus went to a user’s mailbox as an attachment labeled “love letter.” Once opened, it would systematically erase and destroy important files.
What looked like a simple email attachment caused 50 million infections within days of being released into the world and, by the end of its rampage, the ILOVEYOU virus caused upwards of $10 billion in damages.
This is a casebook example of an overwriting virus in action.
Find out more about different types of malware and how to scan for viruses.
How to check for and get rid of viruses
Don’t lose hope! While today’s topic of conversation is ever so slightly doom and gloom, rest assured, existing viruses can be removed pretty easily. If you suspect you may be at risk, the below steps will offer (simple) protection from (basic) viruses. If you run into trouble, you may need to speak to an IT guru.
1. Download and install legitimate antivirus software.
Follow the installation requirements and confirm the download;
2. Disconnect from the internet and restart your computer.
Some viruses use networks to multiply, so ensure you’re logged out to prevent further damage;
3. Restart in safe mode.
Turn your computer off and reboot it in safe mode. Check out these guides for safe mode mac or safe mode Windows. On a side note, if you’re wondering how many different Microsoft Windows file types can be infected with a virus, the answer is… all of them. Malware has become so sophisticated that almost every file type in circulation can and does fall victim to viruses;
4. Scan your system and delete any unnecessary files.
Use the “Disk Cleanup” feature for either mac or Windows to free up disk space;
5. Run an antivirus scan.
Get full protection by initiating Surfshark Antivirus or other leading antivirus protection tools;
6. Reboot your computer.
Restart your computer and take it out of Safe Mode;
7. Change all your passwords.
As an additional precaution, change all your logins and passwords.
8. Update your software
Another effective tactic for preventing common computer viruses is to regularly update any outdated software, browser extensions, and operating system versions.
4 tips to protect your devices against viruses
Here are some of the best ways to protect yourself from viruses and malware.
Surfshark Antivirus and other leading products will provide 24/7 protection for viruses and zero-day attacks. This security software will scan the computer for virus signs, removing malware and other threats.
Find out more about Surfshark Antivirus software.
Update your software
As mentioned, newer software has enhanced security features. Always ensure you’re running the latest operating systems, website applications, and upgrades.
Use a cookie pop-up blocker
A cookie pop-up blocker is a great way to clean up your system and eliminate unwanted pop-ups for added malware protection.
Download files only from trustworthy sites
Be careful of downloading free software programs, content, plugins, or programs from unfamiliar sites.
Wrap up: here’s how you win the war on malware
Now that you’re aware of 2022’s most threatening computer viruses and can spot the telltale signs of an infected device, you can put the above steps in place and help win the war on malware for good. And, as any cyber-guru will tell you, prevention is always the best cure. So, stay protected with your own versatile antivirus solution.
What is the most common computer virus?
An overwriting virus is still one of the most common (and threatening) computer virus types out there. Once it makes its way into your operating system, it will delete your important data, and replace the code with a malicious replica. These viruses can occur on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems and are hard to route out and eradicate. The best way to fight an overwritten virus head-on is by downloading reputable antivirus software.
How do I prevent a computer virus?
Here’s how to get rid of viruses on your computer with malware protection. First of all, invest in a strong antivirus solution like Surfshark Antivirus. Also, ensure that your software is always updated and that you never download files from sites you don’t know or email addresses you don’t recognize.
What is malware vs. computer viruses?
Computer viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, and bots are all a class of malicious software known as malware. Once activated, malware can cause untold havoc, steal your account information, cause operational damage, corrupt your computer files, and more. The best way to combat malware is with an antivirus solution like Surfshark, NordVPN, or similar.