Viruses & Spyware

Viruses & Spyware


About viruses

A computer virus is a program that infects your computer. Viruses are harmful to you because they can delete files on your computer, access personal information (like credit card numbers and passwords), and allow others to access your computer over the Internet. Viruses are harmful to the network because they aggressively attempt to infect other computers, and can cause very slow network speeds for all users.

There are many types of computer viruses that can infect your computer in different ways. The most common are viruses and worms:

  • A virus is an executable program that requires user interaction to infect the computer. For example, if you get an email that contains a virus, you won’t be infected with the virus unless you open the email attachment. In addition to email attachments, you can also be infected with viruses by clicking on AIM or email links, downloading infected files from file sharing programs, and by visiting unknown websites.
  • A worm is a computer program that moves from computer to computer, usually without user interaction. A worm spreads by searching for security holes in a piece of software or operating system, and then infecting the vulnerable computer. Worms can be prevented by keeping your computer up-to-date with security updates for Windows/Mac operating systems, your web browser, and your email program.


Common symptoms

  • Your hard drive or memory mysteriously run out of free space
  • Your computer is running slower than normal, and takes a long time to start up
  • Strange dialog boxes appear on your computer
  • Your virus scanner is disabled and cannot be restarted, or won’t run at all
  • New icons appear on your desktop
  • Windows won’t start because certain critical files are missing
  • Your computer stops responding before the desktop icons or taskbar appear
  • Windows spontaneously restarts unexpectedly
  • You cannot start Windows Task Manager
  • Antivirus software indicates that a virus is present


Virus prevention

Keep your operating system up-to-date
As flaws are discovered in your operating system, the manufacturer will distribute patches, or critical updates that help keep you protected. For more information, see Windows Updates or Mac Updates.
Use your Antivirus Software
Antivirus software will find infected files and (in most cases) will remove viruses from your computer. It is important to regularly update your antivirus’s definitions so your antivirus knows how to spot the latest viruses.

Use safe computing habits
The first line of defense against viruses is you. It is crucial that you keep your computer current with operating system updates and virus scanner definitions! In addition, you should scan all e-mail attachments, and think twice before clicking a link in your instant messages – many new viruses are spread this way. For more safe computing recommendations, see the Security page.

Antivirus Software

If you don’t have antivirus software, you will need to get one. There are various free options for antivirus software available on the internet. Some of the popular choices are Microsoft Security EssentialsAvira, Avast!, and AVG Free.

Virus removal and tools

If your antivirus software is not removing the virus, or the virus reappears when you restart your computer, here are some additional things you can try:

Removal Tools:


Disable System Restore

Certain viruses store themselves in the memory on your computer. In order to remove them, you may need to disable system restore while you run your virus scanner. Remember to turn System Restore back on after you are finished.

Windows 7:

  1. Go to Start > Right-click Computer and select Properties
  2. Select the System Protection tab on the left
  3. Under Protection Settings, click the disk, and then click Configure
  4. Check Turn off system protection
  5. Restart your computer
  6. Run your virus scanner to remove the viruses
  7. Restart your computer when the virus scan is complete
  8. Turn System Restore back on. To do this, follow steps 1-3, and check the boxRestore system settings and previous versions of files
  9. Click Apply, then OK

Windows 8:

  1. Move the cursor to the bottom right corner of your screen to display the side bar and choose “Settings” (or press the Windows key + C)
  2. PC info > System Protection
  3. Click on Configure
  4. To disable System Restore: select “Disable system protection” and then click on Apply.
  5. Restart your computer
  6. Run your virus scanner to remove the viruses
  7. Restart your computer when the virus scan is complete
  8. To enable System Restore: select “Turn on system protection” and then click on Apply.


Boot in Safe Mode

You can start Windows 8 in safe mode using either the System Configuration Utility or the F8 key.

To use the System Configuration to start Windows 8 in Safe mode

  1. Close all open programs.
  2. Click Start > type msconfig into the search bar and open it.
  3. On the BOOT tab, check Safe Boot
  4. Click OK.
  5. When you are asked to restart the computer, click Restart.The computer restarts in Safe mode. (This can take several minutes.) When you are finished working in Safe mode, open the msconfig tab again and uncheck Safe Boot

To Boot Windows 8 into Safe mode without System Configuration:

If you can boot the PC to the login screen, you can hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on Restart to be taken to the troubleshooting option screen where you can enable Safe Mode.

  1. Once you get to the troubleshooting screen, You will need to click on the Troubleshoot button.
  2. Now select Advanced Options
  3. Now click Windows Startup Settings
  4. Finally hit the Restart button
  5. When your PC reboots you will be able to boot into Safe Mode from the Advanced Boot Options screen