Signs of Computer Viruses: Are You Infected

After you open and run an infected program or attachment on your computer, you might not realize that you’ve introduced a virus until you notice something isn’t quite right.

Here are a few primary indicators that your computer might be infected:

  • Your computer runs more slowly than normal
  • Your computer stops responding or locks up often
  • Your computer crashes and restarts every few minutes
  • Your computer restarts on its own and then fails to run normally
  • Applications on your computer don’t work correctly
  • Disks or disk drives are inaccessible
  • You can’t print correctly
  • You see unusual error messages
  • You see distorted menus and dialog boxes

These are common signs of infection---but they might also indicate hardware or software problems that have nothing to do with a virus. Unless you install industry-standard, up-to-date antivirus software on your computer, there is no way to be certain if your computer is infected with a virus or not.

Tip: Beware of messages warning you that you sent an email that contained a virus. This can indicate that the virus has listed your email address as the sender of tainted email. This does not necessarily mean that you have a virus. Some viruses have the ability to forge email addresses.

Email Viruses

Email is now the most common way that viruses are transmitted between computers. The most common mechanism for this is in the form of an "attachment" to the message while sending documents, images, and so on. However, it is also possible for attachments to contain programs which run when the attachment is opened.

The most basic steps to protect you against email virus attack are:

Install anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date.

Don't open email attachments directly.
Although the latest anti-virus software can detect virus-infected documents "on-the-fly", it's safest to save email attachments to disk first. (This applies even if they come from someone you know — people you trust can unwittingly distribute viruses.) You can then perform an explicit virus scan before opening the document.

Use a document viewer to read received documents.

Enable Virus Protection in Microsoft Office Components.
Microsoft's Office 97 and Office 2000 products include a macro-virus protection option. However, it is possible for this to get turned off. To check the current setting, use the [Tools/Options/General] menu dialog in Office 97 programs and the [Tools/Macro/Security] dialog in Office 2000.

Disable The Microsoft Windows Scripting Host.
Recent versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Outlook email client include the ability to run script programs written in Microsoft's Visual Basic language. This is a facility that has been exploited by viruses such as the "Love Letter" virus. Disabling the scripting host will give protection against this form of attack.

Email Extortions (Vishing)

Vishing operates like phishing by persuading consumers to divulge their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), claiming their account was suspended, deactivated, or terminated. Recipients are directed to contact their bank via a telephone number provided in the email or by an automated recording. Upon calling the telephone number, the recipient is greeted with "Welcome to XYZ Credit Union ……" and then requested to enter their card number in order to resolve a pending security issue.

For authenticity, some fraudulent emails claim the credit union/bank would never contact customers to obtain their PII by any means, including email, mail, or instant messenger. These emails further warn recipients not to provide sensitive information when requested in an email and not to click on embedded links, claiming they could contain "malicious software aimed at capturing login credentials."

Please beware—spam emails may actually contain malicious code (malware) which can harm your computer. Do not open any unsolicited email and do not click on any links provided.

Although this scam is based out of the North Eastern US, our members can always be on the alert to avoid scams artists and fraudsters.

Residents of Paramus, NJ and surrounding areas have been receiving automated ”Vishing” telephone calls impersonating a local financial institution. The automated calls have gone out to thousands of area residents regardless of which financial institution they patronize. It is clear that the perpetrators of this scam are not in possession of the specific information for the financial institution that they are impersonating.


  A consumer receives a pre-recorded call identifying a specific local financial institution. The message informs that consumer that their personal accounts have been frozen. The messages advise the consumer to immediately input their ATM or debit card number, expiration, date, and PIN to reactivate the affective accounts. CV2 from the back of the card may also be requested.

  Calls appear to be made from various telephone numbers. The automated phone calls are most likely being made from a Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) telephone service using various telephone numbers that are attributed to this scam.

  Unauthorized ATM withdrawals are occurring immediately in Spain (and possibly other countries) as this scam develops.