A computer virus is a piece of malicious code or a program that is designed to spread within a computer and from one device to another. One defining characteristic of a computer virus is that it needs a host to attach itself to. This could be a harmless-looking attachment file in an email or an executable program. Once the infected file is opened the virus gets into action and begins to spread. Until this the computer virus lays dormant, waiting to be activated by the user. Because it needs a host to attach itself to, these types of malware are called viruses, just like viruses that can infect humans and animals.
A user does not necessarily notice the presence of a computer virus on their device. However, there are some common signs of a computer virus infection that can help take action towards getting rid of them.
Online criminals know how to trick you into downloading a virus on your computer. Luckily you can do a lot to prevent that from happening. As computer viruses need a host program or a file to spread and do harm, an easy way to avoid getting a virus is by stopping suspicious files from getting on your computer.
You should also keep your operating system and other applications up to date. Outdated software may hide vulnerabilities that can be exploited by online criminals. And speaking of software, you definitely should have a reliable antivirus program keeping your devices protected at all times. An antivirus software can catch viruses that lurk in the attachment files of phishing emails or files you might download online. This makes it one of the most important parts of your online protection. If you are suspicious of a file on your computer, you can scan it for viruses and other malware with the antivirus.
If you have caught a computer virus despite your best efforts, try running a virus scan on your computer. A regular virus scan on your device should be a part of everyone’s cyber security routine. F‑Secure has a free online scanner on our website for your Windows PC. With your computer’s antivirus software you can detect and contain files and programs that have been infected by a computer virus. You should remove or uninstall these from spreading any further.
Although the words malware and virus are often used interchangeably and have many things in common, they are not entirely the same thing.
In other words, all computer viruses are malware but not all malware are viruses. Types of malware other than computer viruses include trojans, computer worms and ransomware. For example, a computer worm can self-replicate on its own in order to spread, whereas viruses need a host to help them spread.
Nowadays all internet-connected devices are susceptible to viruses and other malware. Even home appliances, such as washing machines, your router, webcam, and other so-called IoT devices (short for Internet of Things) can get infected. So it is safe to assume that your mobile devices are not safe either. Although smartphones and tablets are not under the same kind of threat as desktop computers and laptops, there is malware looking to infect your mobile devices.
One recent example of mobile malware are so-called Android banking trojans. They are capable of mimicking real banking mobile apps and can trick the user into giving away security codes used for two-factor authentication. Other mobile malware can spy on the device’s owner by listening to phone calls, recording the device’s screen or using location data to track the victim in real life.
Many of the same tell-tale signs of computer viruses apply to mobile viruses. One of the most notable and noticeable changes in your device, however, is battery drain. Using a mobile phone naturally uses up its battery. If you notice the battery draining unusually fast, make sure to check the device for malware. Luckily there is reliable virus protection for both desktop computers and mobile devices, such as F‑Secure Total.
Many computer viruses and malware are notoriously difficult to remove from your device once they have infected it. That is why prevention is the best solution. F‑Secure Total and its award-winning antivirus program give you reliable protection from viruses and malware. With an easy-to-use VPN, password manager and tools for identity protection, F‑Secure Total gives you full online protection against computer viruses and more.