Monday, March 16, 2009

AP, Yahoo! offer basic advice on recognizing home computer virus infection

Jordan Robertson has an important but basic AP story today, “How to tell, what to do if your computer is infected,” link here.
The story was featured today (March 16, 2009) on Yahoo!

Most viruses don’t cause crashes and widespread destruction. But they may cause your computer to slow down, and they may cause unwanted popups. But the biggest danger is that they steal personal information or that they run bots from your machine as a zombie that could infect other machines or possibly transmit illegal content.

There can be other, “benign” reasons why older machines slow down, including fragmentation, software corruption, and some specific problems, such as the tendency for Firefox to hang on AOL mail (memory locks up). I’ve seen corruption from Kodak CD’s and even Adobe before (software bugs, not viruses). Other bugs include a Microsoft Word 2002 problem that would generate extraneous repeated links when converting documents to HTML (because it would generate extra span lines in the XSL element).

There have been rare occasions, as noted on this blog, when people have actually been prosecuted for content placed on home or work computers by viruses. This has happened in public schools and state governments, and in a few cases at home. Hopefully the new administration’s Justice Department will look seriously at the problem of wrongful prosecutions and put a stop to them. (The previous administration couldn’t care less.)

The AP article discusses anti-virus software, but companies like Geek Squad say that the best anti-virus companies keep changing from year to year, and some of the smaller companies are more reliable.

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