The world is more connected than it has ever been in its history. That has brought massive economic and social benefits, but it has also created a growing problem, viruses. The more we connect, the more susceptible we are to viral infection and its spread.
This vulnerability applies to both the digital world and the human world. The world is now struggling with the Coronavirus. Its proliferation is a lot like the digital viruses that have been making the rounds. The disease has killed almost 2,000 people and has infected more than 71,000 people. The numbers are rising daily.
What do Coronavirus and a Computer Virus Have in Common?
The Coronavirus is currently making headlines around the world. It has frustrated officials because a lot of information about the virus is unknown. There has been a lack of certainty on how it is transmitted, its symptoms, and its cure. This lack of clear information has created an opening for hackers.
Although the Coronavirus is pathological, it has been used by hackers to spread digital viruses. Phishing scams have arisen, particularly in Asia, wherein hackers send legitimate-looking emails purporting to have information on the Coronavirus and its prevention. The email would encourage the user to click a file attachment or link for more details, and then the malware will be downloaded. Using global trending topics to get people to click through malware is a common tactic among hackers.
How to Tell if You Have a Computer Virus
Could you have unwittingly downloaded malicious software? Is your computer infected by a virus? There are a few signs you can use to tell if your computer has a virus, namely:
- Your computer has become slower, or it takes longer to start it up when you switch it on.
- Your computer continuously crashes or freezes.
- You no longer have access to settings, files, programs, folders, or even your entire computer.
- You cannot log in to your email or social media accounts.
- Your friends and colleagues are receiving social media invites that you didn’t send, or you see emails you didn’t write in your sent folder.
- Your battery does not last as long as it should
- You are getting unsolicited pop-ups and ads that encourage you to visit a website or to download software.
Is There a Cure?
Should your computer become infected, the immediate first step should be to contain the virus. Containment means disconnecting your computer from the network so that it doesn’t infect other devices and powering it down so that the virus does not do any more damage. After containing the virus, you call in the experts, whether it is your IT department or a computer repair shop near you. An assessment of the damage should be made to find out what has been corrupted, how the computer was infected, and whether the virus has spread to other computers.
What follows is a series of steps to clean out your system. The procedure may be a bit complex and requires extensive experience in computing to navigate. Essentially the computer will be turned on in Safe Mode. Safe Mode only runs the bare minimum Windows or Linux programs to operate. This leaves out all other software, including the malware. Temporary files will then be deleted. This might even delete some of the malware, but it’s usually done to create memory space for the next step.
Finally, you can download and run an antivirus program to find and eliminate all malware, preferably one different to the one you use. The reason behind using a different antivirus program is because the one you were using didn’t detect or eliminate the threat in the first place.
Some viruses do not allow you to operate on Safe Mode. The solution to this requires you to either use a pre-installed environment or scan your computer using another computer. A pre-installed environment is a stripped-down Windows or Linux operating system that runs off a disc or USB. It enables you to boot to the operating system stored on them using the infected computer’s CPU, memory, and video.
Once the machine has booted, you’ll be able to run diagnostic tools as usual. Alternatively, you can remove the computer’s hard drive and install it into another computer as a second hard drive. After that, you scan all the documents and files in it for malware.
Using the hard drive in another computer also enables you to remove malware manually. This is a potentially damaging method as you could be deleting system files. It is recommended that you have a professional do manual removal of malware.
Infection Doesn’t Mean the End
It is possible to recover from the Coronavirus in the same way you can recover from a computer virus. Isolate the infected host, assess the true nature of the infection, and, most importantly, have the experts handle the treatment.