DJ’s Guide to Computer Viruses: The Cause

So let’s talk about computer viruses. There’s a lot of cute ideas people have about them. A couple weeks back, I had a family come in terrified that people were sneaking into the computer and wanted to know if I could change the IP address to prevent them from finding their computer again.

Yeah.

So first of all, what actually happens when you have a virus?

Well, nine times out of ten, there is never any person on the other end, for one thing. No one is actually maliciously out to ruin your day here.

Basically, viruses are opportunistic code. They are designed to perform certain actions when certain other actions occur. Like for instance, if you access a webpage with a virus in it’s code, it may act on that code and infect your computer. Then it might do something like give you a bunch of pop-ups for fake anti-virus or lock up your computer and cover your screen with a page saying the FBI’s coming over unless you give them $200.

The thing to know though is that you’re not really in any immediate danger. Most viruses aren’t spyware, they’re not here for your credit card numbers. (It may terrify you to learn that those viruses are more effective if you aren’t aware they are there.) This kind of virus is scareware, adware. Like a Nigerian prince’s email, these viruses are just trying to get you to send them money. But it’s only through chance that you got the message. No one is specifically targeting you, nor will they ever know you got their virus unless you initiate interaction.

So chill out, people. It’s not the end of the world. The means of getting rid of most viruses is pretty simple…

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