So You Have A Computer Virus. What Now?

If you have a virus on your computer then it is likely that you fall into one of these camps:

  1. you’re security software has let you down
  2. you are reckless and download and click on things you shouldn’t
  3. you’re a security professional
But don’t panic!

Each of the above problems is easily fixed by:

  1. installing a decent antivirus program
  2. growing up
  3. growing up

If you’re wondering about point #3 then it is a bit topical at the moment with some security pros saying they don’t need or use antivirus software. Maybe some of them have a point but I rather like the retort from ESET’s David Harley on the matter — Security professionals DO use anti-virus.

Anyways, all that aside, what do you do after the event?

Dealing with a computer virus

If a virus has been detected and it is already on your hard drive then, assuming that you do indeed have an antivirus or internet security program installed, you should attempt to fix the problem by having it fix, delete or quarantine the infected file(s).

If this doesn’t work then you should 1) Google a solution for fixing the problem manually and 2) change your security software.

If a virus has been detected in an email attachment then simply delete it straight away. In fact, it is advisable to always remain wary of all email attachments unless you know they are from a trusted source.

If the worst happens and your security software cannot deal with the virus, and manual removal methods fail to work too, then you still have a couple of options open to you. One is to find a good security forum where other users may be able to help you — Malware bytes is one example.

The other option, which is far more extreme, is to start over. This means reformatting your hard drive which will destroy the virus. Unfortunately it will also destroy all the rest of your data too so it is very much a last resort. If you do have to choose this option then be sure to install your antivirus program as soon as possible after you are back up and running in order to avoid a re-occurrence.

Lastly, be responsible. If you believe the virus came from sharing a DVD or USB stick with a friend, or an email attachment that came from a colleague then do please let them know so that they can check if their own system has been compromised.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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