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Archives: Symptoms of a computer virus and removal tips

Originally published in August 2010
Simon Nguyen

Nothing is more frustrating to a computer user than having to constantly deal with computer viruses and worms. From novice users to computer experts, no one is exempt from suffering at least one instance of serious virus infection. The key difference is that more experienced computer users are able to spot the infections early and resolve the issue in a more timely fashion. As all computer viruses exhibit certain symptoms that reveal their existence, it is important to recognize these symptoms to better protect your computer and files.

Suspicious antivirus pop-ups

From time to time, your computer screen may suddenly be blanketed by a series of virus alerts telling you that your system has been compromised by a computer virus. The alert pop-up is often stylized as a virus scanner, showing the supposed number of infections in real time. These alerts are often followed by another series of pop-ups, offering antivirus software to get rid of the computer worm. If you happen to encounter these pop-ups, chances are your computer has been infected by one of those infamous fake antivirus malwares.

There are several versions of this type of virus. One version tricks the user into buying or subscribing to fake anti-virus software to remove the supposed virus. If the user does not respond to the offer, the pop-ups will relentlessly pursue your computer screen. Through time, they will show up with increased frequency and intensity until the user will finally give in to the blackmailing scheme. A more advanced version of the virus may even take over your computer and force you to pay for access to it. The most dangerous version prompts you to click on the pop-up, which will open the floodgate for spywares & trojans to enter your system and create havoc. The intent of this version is to steal your identity and private data.

To remove simple versions of this virus, a full antivirus scan by legitimate security software or a plain System Restore should be suffice. Removing more advanced versions will require either expert consultation or a specialized antivirus program or both. If none of these methods work, the act of last resort would be to reinstall the OS system. But here is a note of caution. You should never attempt to fix something you don’t have a good handle on. Very often inept solutions turn out to further exacerbate the problems rather than actually fixing them.

Redirect links and search

If you are a frequent user of Google/Yahoo search engine, you may sometimes encounter a problem where you click on a search link only to be redirected to an unrelated page. It is likely that your computer has been infected with a malware that targets and hijacks web browsers. By itself, the virus is nothing more than a minor annoyance. One can easily eradicate the issue by either clearing your browser’s cache, or run an anti-malware scan using your preferred security software. At worst, one could always copy and paste the search result links and visit the sites of interest by the direct method. The real problems arise from what may have been on the sites you were redirected to. It is possible that your computer could have inadvertently downloaded or installed more serious viruses and malwares from these pages. If these things do happen, you should follow the advices mentioned previously to fix the problems.

Background malwares and viruses

If your computer suddenly experiences a significant deterioration in speed and performance, it is likely that your system has been infected with the most serious form of computer virus—the background malware. These viruses work silently on the background and are often deeply rooted in the system registry. Unfortunately, most antivirus programs tend to miss these malwares or can only partially remove them. Some versions of the virus are even capable of regenerating themselves as well as shutting down antivirus software, making their removal extremely difficult. If you encounter these formidable viruses, it is highly commended that you seek expert help or as an act of last resort, reinstall the system.

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