What is a computer virus?

Think of a biological virus – the kind that makes you sick. It’s persistently nasty, keeps you from functioning normally and often requires something powerful to get rid of it. A computer virus is very similar. Designed to relentlessly replicate, these threats infect your programs and files, alter the way your computer operates or stop it from working altogether. It’s estimated that the ‘Conficker’ malware infected more than 10 million computers in 2009, which was a massive amount back then.

The amount of viruses and their capability to inflict damage have only increased since then. Today, hundreds of thousands of them operate over the internet, and new variants are discovered every day. When you couple this with the discoveries of mass-scale security flaws/vulnerabilities (such as ‘Heartbleed’ and ‘Bash’ in 2014), the cyber-world really starts to look like a scary place. It is. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself and your devices.

How does it find me?

Even if you’re careful, you can pick one up through normal online activities like:

  • Sharing music, files or photos with other users
  • Visiting an infected website
  • Opening spam email or an email attachment
  • Downloading free games, toolbars, media players and other system utilities
  • Installing mainstream software applications without fully reading license agreements

What does it do?

Some computer viruses are programmed to harm your computer by damaging programs, deleting files, or reformatting the hard drive. Others simply replicate themselves or flood a network with traffic, making it impossible to perform any internet activity. Even less harmful versions can significantly disrupt your system’s performance, sapping computer memory and causing frequent computer crashes.

What are the symptoms?

Your computer may be infected if you recognize any of these malware symptoms:

  • Slow computer performance
  • Erratic computer behavior
  • Unexplained data loss
  • Frequent computer crashes

Arming yourself with the best protection

When you arm yourself with information and resources, you’re wiser about computer security threats and less vulnerable to threat tactics. Take these steps to safeguard your PC with the best protection:

Make sure that you have the best security software products installed on your computer:

  • Use anti-virus protection and a firewall
  • Get anti-spyware software
  • Always keep your anti-virus protection and anti-spyware software up-to-date (Webroot SecureAnywhere updates automatically)
  • Update your operating system regularly (most update automatically)
  • Increase your browser security settings
  • Avoid questionable websites
  • Only download software from sites you trust and carefully evaluate free software and file-sharing applications before downloading them

Practice safe email protocol:

  • Don’t open messages from unknown senders
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam

An unprotected computer is like an open door for malware. Firewalls monitor Internet traffic in and out of your computer and hide your PC from online scammers looking for easy targets. Products like Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete provide total protection from the most dangerous threats out there, thwarting them before they can enter your PC, and standing guard at every possible entrance of your computer to fend off any malware that tries to enter, even the most damaging and devious strains.

While free anti-virus software is available, it simply can’t offer the consistent protection that you need to keep up with the continuous onslaught of new strains. Previously undetected forms of can often do the most damage, so it’s critical to have up-to-the-minute protection that won’t take a break to update and miss the oncoming threat.

Blog Staff

About the Author

Blog Staff

The Webroot blog offers expert insights and analysis into the latest cybersecurity trends. Whether you’re a home or business user, we’re dedicated to giving you the awareness and knowledge needed to stay ahead of today’s cyber threats.

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