FAQs: Viruses and Spyware

Q. What is a computer virus?

A. A computer virus can be defined as a program that disguises itself as something else, replicates itself, and creates undesirable events on a computer. A computer virus can spread across the population of computers, creating havoc on the way. Viruses have been known to harm computers in such a way that it would force a user to format their PC, losing all their personal files in the process. Other viruses affect computers or programs on the computer in other ways. An example is Macro viruses will affect a program like Microsoft Word, so that any time a certain letter, word, or phrase is typed, it will change it. Although not harmful, it makes Word almost useless.

Q. How can I tell if I have a computer virus?

A. The only way to be 100% sure that you truly have a computer virus is to have an anti-virus program, and have it report the virus to you. We suggest that you contact the Buckeye Brainiacs for help with antivirus software.

Q. How do I get a computer virus?

A. People get computer viruses a few common ways. Many people believe that if they do not open the attachment on an email, they will be virus free. That is false. Although the email attachments are the most common way of receiving a computer virus, there are computer viruses that install themselves when displayed in the preview pane of an email client. A growing way of receiving computer viruses is by peer-to-peer networks. Anytime a person downloads something from the internet there is always the potential of getting a virus.

Q. My anti-virus program has reported that I do have a virus, now what?

A. Most anti-virus programs are created so that anyone can use them. Follow the instructions on the screen, and if you do not understand what they are asking you, contact the vendor of that software or contact Buckeye Brainiacs.

Q. How can I prevent myself from receiving a computer virus?

A. The best suggestion that I have ever heard about preventing computer viruses is to get an anti-virus program, keep it updated, and keep it running. It is something that could save you time and money down the line.

Q. What is Spyware?

A. Spyware is a type of advertising or monitoring software that has been installed on a computer. Spyware is also referred to as a parasite program. There are many things that spyware does while on a computer. It can track the websites you visit and send a report back to the company that developed it. It can also act as a search engine or toolbar to help you find a website that you are looking for. Spyware also can create pop ups and other advertising on a computer. Other adverse effects of spyware include hijacking of host files, pop up ads, cluttered startup of the computer, and even ruining the operating system of a computer.

Q. What you can do to stop spyware from being installed on your computer?

A. Make sure that you read the Terms and Conditions of Service of P2P networks, and know what programs are being installed on your computer, especially when you see a ‘Security Warning’ screen when surfing the internet.

Q. How do you know that you may already have spyware?

A. There are a few obvious symptoms when a PC has been infected with spyware. One is that the homepage of your internet browser will keep changing on you each time the computer is rebooted. Even if you go into the Internet Properties and change it back to the homepage that it originally had, it will continue to change. There sometimes are additional sites added to your list of favorite webpages. Pop-up advertising is another way to identify spyware has been installed.

Q. Where did I get the spyware?

A. Spyware gets onto a computer by many means. A lot of spyware is packaged with what is known as Peer to Peer networking software or you could get it from visiting many websites

Q. What can be done about spyware?

A. Buckeye Broadband suggests the use of Ad-Aware so you can scan, detect and remove any instances of spyware. You can also contact the Buckeye Brainiacs for help cleaning your computer.

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