Steps to help remove a virus:
1. Visit the Protect Your PC site and install the latest updates.
2. If you currently use antivirus software, visit the manufacturer's Web site,
update it, and then perform a thorough scan of your system. If you don't
currently use antivirus software, subscribe to a service and scan your system
3. Download, install, and run the Malicious Software Removal Tool (for Microsoft
Windows XP or Windows 2000 users). Note that this tool does not prevent viruses
from infecting your system; it only helps to remove existing viruses.
Antivirus software & firewall protection:
Associates - 12 month free trial
6 month free trial
Firewall - 90 day free trial
Software - 90 day free trial
Symantec (Norton) - 90 day free trial
Trend Micro - 90 day free trial
Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware - free
What is a computer virus?
Computer viruses are software programs deliberately designed to interfere with
computer operation, record, corrupt, or delete data, or spread themselves to
other computers and throughout the Internet, often slowing things down and
causing other problems in the process.
Just as human viruses range in severity from the 24-hour flu to the Ebola virus,
computer viruses range from the mildly annoying to the downright destructive,
and come in new and different forms. The good news is that with an ounce of
prevention and a little knowledge, you are less likely to fall victim to viruses
and you can diminish their impact.
How do viruses work?
Basic viruses typically require unwary computer users to inadvertently share or
send them. Some viruses that are more sophisticated, such as worms, can
replicate and send themselves automatically to other computers by controlling
other software programs, such as an e-mail sharing application. Certain viruses,
called Trojans (named after the fabled Trojan horse), can falsely appear as a
beneficial program to coax users into downloading them. Some Trojans can even
provide expected results while quietly damaging your system or other networked
computers at the same time.
Although it's good to be aware of these different types of viruses and how they
work, what is most important is that you keep your computer current with the
latest updates and antivirus tools, stay current about recent threats, and that
you follow a few basic rules when surfing the Internet, downloading files, and
opening attachments. Once a virus is on your computer, its type or the method it
used to get there is not as critical as removing it and preventing further
Nothing can guarantee the security of your computer 100 percent. However, you
can continue to improve your computer's security and decrease the possibility of
infection by keeping your system up-to-date, maintaining a current antivirus
software subscription, and following a few best practices.
Steps to help avoid viruses:
1. Visit Microsoft Update and turn on Automatic Updates.
Note: If you've installed Office 2003 or Office XP, Automatic Updates will also
update your Office programs. If you have an earlier version of Office, use
2. Use an Internet firewall (Note: Windows XP with SP2 has a firewall already
built-in and active).
3. Subscribe to industry standard antivirus software and keep it current.
4. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don't know.
5. Avoid opening an e-mail attachment from someone you know, unless you know
exactly what the attachment is. The sender may be unaware that it contains a
How do I know if a virus has infected my computer?
After you open and run an infected program or attachment on your computer, you
might not realize that you've introduced a virus until you notice something
isn't quite right.
Here are a few primary indicators that your system might be infected:
• Runs consistently slower than normal
• Stops responding or locks up often
• Crashes and restarts every few minutes
• Restarts on its own and then fails to run normally
• Applications don't work properly
• Disks or disk drives are inaccessible
• Printing doesn't work correctly
• You see unusual error messages
• You see distorted menus and dialog boxes
These are common signs of infection—but they could also indicate hardware or
software problems that have nothing to do with a virus. The bottom line is that
unless you install industry standard, up-to-date antivirus software on your
computer, there is no way to be certain if your computer is infected with a
virus or not.