A virus is a program that can enter computers or IT systems in a number of ways, causing effects that range from simply annoying to highly-destructive and irreparable.

How do viruses work?

Computer viruses spread like biological ones. To work, viruses need a host file (e.g. a Word document) or a host program (e.g. that free PDF splitter you downloaded). To replicate, viruses need humans to send them through emails, messages, attachments, etc.

Thus, we distribute computer viruses by sending infected attachments to other users. Like us, they unknowingly download and open the attached file, thus getting infected. Most recipients will open these attachments because they trust us, and so virus replication takes a human action and a little gullibility.


How to tell if your device has a virus

A few telltale signs that your computer is infected are:

Pop-ups: Pop-up messages are appearing often. These are constantly popping up every time you are on your computer, and they are hard to x out of or get rid of. Never click on a suspicious pop-up even if it says a virus has been detected as this could be a fake antivirus program.

Your computer is running slowly: Make sure that all of your applications and systems are up to date. If it’s still slow, it’s probably a virus that is hijacking your browser using a rogue ad or a phishing website.

Your hard drive is making noise: If your hard disk is making continuous noises or spins with minimal to no computer activity, your PC could be infected.

Programs are continually crashing: If programs are starting and closing automatically, or your system randomly shuts down or freezes, your computer could be experiencing a virus.

You have missing files: If you are missing files that you know were not deleted, this may be due to malware. Some malware creates issues by deleting files and moving them around or encrypting files so you cannot open them.

High network activity: If your Wi-Fi network is very active even when you are not using it, a virus could be infiltrating your Internet connection to send information back and forth.