Do I Have A Virus?
A reader asks: “Do I have a Virus? My computer will stop and it says I have a virus and to unfreeze everything I must call a number on the screen. Then they will walk me through the process to fix it. Is this true? I have antivirus installed but still, it pops up now and then.” Here's my diagnosis…
Virus Alert: Real or Rogue?
You don’t say whether these symptoms occur when you are browsing the Web or when you are doing something else. You may have a real virus in your computer, or you may be looking at a simulated virus that is nothing more than a Web page that a scammer has made difficult to close.
Either way, do not call that phone number! You will surely be connected to a fake “tech support rep” who will try to initiate a remote session with you. He'll also con you out of one or more credit card numbers (“Oops, that card was declined. Got another?”) He may also try to get your bank account numbers, Social Security Number, driver’s license number, and other data that can be used to steal your identity.
The most likely result is that you WILL have a virus after dutifully following the instructions of the person on the other end of the phone. Adding insult to injury, new credit card charges will be rung up, leaving you to sort things out with the card issuer. So do not call that phone number.
If this “virus alert” pops up only when you are browsing the Web, it is probably a fake Web page. Your computer does not have a virus. But the fake page can be designed to take over your entire screen, leaving scant clues that a browser is open. The page may also include code that makes it very difficult to close the page, and which re-opens the page if you do manage to close it. Your first step to get out of this trap is to close your browser.
Press the Ctl-Alt-Del keys simultaneously and hold them down until a Windows screen appears that bears the line, “Start Task Manager.” (Your screen may go blank for a few seconds.) Click on that to open the Task Manager utility. In the Applications tab you will see the name of your browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox etc.). Highlight that name and then click the “End Task” button at the bottom of Task Manager to force the browser to close.
Eliminating a Malware Infection
If the “virus alert” went away when you closed your browser, then the problem is almost certainly browser-related. The alert may simply be a page on a shady Web site that you visited; the solution is to close that site’s tab or window and never go there again.
But it’s also possible that malware has infected your browser via an extension or add-on that you installed. A free utility named ADWCleaner will scan your computer, browser, and Windows registry for extensions and other programs that may harbor this “tech support” scam. It’s also a good idea to run a full scan using the free or paid version of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware to catch malware your regular anti-virus may have missed.
Another option is System Restore; roll back your Windows system to an earlier time before you started getting the “virus alert.” See my article, System Restore for help with that.
Viruses generally don’t throw up “alerts” to let you know something is wrong. Most malware prefers to operate in secret, so you won't find and remove it. A computer that runs sluggishly may be infected with a virus. Whatever mischief the virus does in the background consumes resources and slows everything.
If your antivirus software is disabled and you didn’t do it, a virus may have. If you cannot visit certain Web sites, especially sites that deal with security and antivirus programs, then you may well have a virus. See my instructions above, and in the sidebar, to scan your computer for viruses if something doesn't seem right, or just as precautionary measure.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Oct 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do I Have A Virus? (Posted: 19 Oct 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved