What is a Computer Virus?
A virus is a computer program that is loaded onto your computer maliciously, usually without your knowledge or consent. Once your computer is infected, it may begin to behave badly. For example, your computer may crash, files may become deleted or modified, personal information such as credit card numbers could be stolen, or your computer could be used to send mass mailings or access other machines.
How do I know if I have a virus?
Just like their biological counterparts, computer viruses often have associated symptoms. For example, if your computer is running slower than usual, freezing, or displaying error messages, it may have a virus.
How did I get this horrible virus on my computer?
The most common ways that a computer can become infected by a virus are as follows:
- Using the Internet without having the latest updates installed for your operating system.
- Using the Internet without having a working firewall.
- Opening email attachments that you were not expecting.
- Visiting unreliable Web sites.
How do I get rid of the virus?
Many viruses can be treated with antivirus software. You should use the software to scan for viruses regularly, so that your computer can catch and delete any virus before it does damage. As viruses are constantly changing and adapting, you should update your antivirus software regularly. You can also avail of the UW Computer Vet program, a free, help-desk service offered to UW students, faculty and staff to assist with computing problems including operating system updates, anti-virus installation and updates, and infected computers blocked from UW network access. Help is available at the Catalyst Computing Commons in Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Mary Gates Hall.