Thursday, January 15, 2009

Symptoms of computer viruses

By PANU KASAR of THE PC Clinic, Port Moresby

I was typing this article on my PC when I saw a notification on my taskbar indicating Norton Internet Security on my computer has just caught a virus treat using its auto protect feature.

 I recently noticed strange frequent pop ups on my computer and installed Norton Internet Security 2009.

 Like biological viruses computer viruses also have symptoms that a user can notice.

Symptoms tell users of the type of antivirus to use on an infected computer.

It is very important that all users must know the symptoms so they can act quickly once an obvious symptom is noticed.

Usually a symptom is an unusual system behavior noticed by the user.  

Many Windows OS Viruses these days have become resistant to anti viruses.

The fact is that some software detect only one particular group of viruses.

Therefore you need at least install two anti viruses on your PC, so one will kills the viruses the other did not detect.

 Up to you to choose the best combination.

If you cannot remove the virus then that is the whole reason why we have ‘The PC Clinic’.

We kill them all. 

Some virus writers try their best to write viruses that do not show any symptoms.

These types of viruses run very low in the system with system processes of the computer.

They can be seen using the task manager function.

Other symptoms are simply to cause frustration to the user.

Some viruses allow you to use applications such as media players to become active without you knowing of the infection.

When you click an infected document it launches Windows Media Player and at the same time activates itself without you knowing.

 Viruses are in most cases written to show obvious symptoms because most people want to challenge their rivals to see if they could create an anti virus to counter attack the virus.

 In fact in most hacker communities in the Western World it is a hobby where teams compete to see who can make the most dangerous virus.

They infect themselves and try to find solutions when their rivals infect them.

 It may be a tough and interesting challenge to the hackers as they find new ways in research which helps them become more skilled in programming but a dangerous treat to a normal computer user.

In fact most of these malicious ware in which they create are sent out onto the internet which finally ends up in our computers.

Some symptoms are clearly seen; others modify a part of the system in which you need to check for yourself to verify the infection.

Modifications such as your internet homepage are changed when you are infected with a spyware.

Obvious symptoms include: computer functions become unusually slow - this is caused by a virus using up memory space.

Unexplained missing files and folders - this is very dangerous as many people have lost important files.

Pop up messages keep popping up on your desktop; the start menu pops up by itself, mouse curser moves by itself,  applications or folders open by themselves more frustrating is when your computer freezes .

 Some viruses log off your computer even when you are working.

The W32.PitinB virus logs off your computer once you log on, locking you out.

 File viruses change your documents from their extensions to .exe.

In the USB drive you see such files as autorun.inf, runauto.

 The manOblack virus creates an executable file called skripsina_ani.exe.

The common removable drive symptom is when all your folders become invisible.

Most users become frustrated they format their drives destroying everything.

 Most USB drives become unusable because boot viruses destroy their boot sectors.  

The most common symptom that most people fear is the blue screen.

Your computer just goes blank displaying a blue screen with technical details.

 This usually happens when Windows is loading or when you try to open a programme.

This is nothing serious but a self defense mechanism for the Windows OS.

 Most dangerous viruses are the W32 family of viruses that infect the windows system32 folder.

Usually the symptoms are: command prompt, task manager, registry editor and control panel components are disabled.

 Folders display the folder navigation tree once you open them.

 Others do not show the open command when you right click.

This family is also responsible for most of the symptoms stated above.

The most common W32 virus is the W32/Rontokbro@mm.

 This virus has become so popular in PNG because it has many variants and clones.

Statistics from The PC Clinic shows that it is widespread in Port Moresby.

Symptoms of spyware are mostly unnoticed but a common clue apart from your homepage being changed is when your computer tries to connect to the internet by itself.  

Spyware are in fact spies and they try as much as possible to run undercover.

They do this because they cannot achieve their mission if they are discovered.

 If you notice such suspicious behaviors don’t panic, follow proper preventive measures of computer maintenance to remove treats.

These are just indications telling you that your computer needs attention.

Paying attention to your computer is important as it avoids complications that may lead to system crash.

There is also a possibility that some of the symptoms can be a result of hardware failure.

Slow applications of can be a result of memory failure.

 If your computer loads slowly you must verify with an anti virus software to see if an unknown process is using the memory otherwise it is memory failure.

 Blue screens and boot failure can be a result of improper cable connection or hard disk failure.

 In many ways hardware can contribute to some of these symptoms.

Since viruses are software they cause or affect the software more than the hardware.

 Therefore most of the symptoms mentioned in this article deals with unusual software behavior.

 It is now evident that some viruses can affect not only behavior of hardware but to some extent damage hardware.

 Viruses can now be able to reprogram the Basic Input Output System (BIOS) of a computer to increase power voltage to different parts of the computer destroying hardware.

All these symptoms are signs which must not cause fear in a user but stir up alertness for careful analysis for preventive procedures.

Probably in another article we will look at all the preventive measures one need to take to fully remove virus treats.

Until then be alert.

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  1. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Hey guys!

    You really do need to have a closer look at Open Source!!

    Install something like Linux Ubuntu and you will never have to worry about viruses again.

    Besides... MS Windows is on it's last legs!!!


  2. Hi Robert,

    I've passed on your comments on the writer of the article, Panu Kasar.


  3. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Thanks Malum,

    A few pointers on PK's response:

    - Windows, Linux or Apple/Mac platforms are equally as user friendly. The Mac probably wins all three hands down.

    - Yes... we do need more awareness around Open Source.

    - There's nothing advanced or specialised about alternatives to the Windows platform. They are all equally as complex or as simple.

    - Open Source options such as Ubuntu Linux are a perfect option for the PNG environment. With IT technology now being deployed to many sectors within PNG - government and advisors alike would be wise to at least take a closer look. The potential cost savings are tremendous.

    - The more folks that continue to push for Proprietary solutions such as MS - the more folks that will be munching away on humble pie down the track.

    Em inap long nau.