Careful where you click, viruses are everywhere

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Computer viruses are crawling all over the internet. A user can get a virus by downloading something to their machine, opening an infected attachment or by visiting some web-sites that install hidden Trojan viruses. According to Millenium 3, more than half of all computer repair jobs they have are due to computers that have been infected with some sort of virus. Lately, the viruses they've wiped off computers are from two sources, Facebook and pornographic web-sites.

"It could turn your computer into a zombie to where they can control it, have a back door in it," said Corey Lemieux at Millenium 3. "I've seen it in here and I've seen it at business where you have porn all over the desktop."

Lemieux said viruses are created to do just about anything. Computer experts who write virus code know how to specifically target their victims. For example, virus makers know a Facebook user is more likely to download a fake video from a close friend or family member, rather than someone the user barely knows.

"You could get anything from something that's just going to destroy the computer itself to leave you financially destroyed," said Lemieux.

According to some research performed by public colleges and universities, many computer repairs are performed due to pornographic web-sites that install viruses or Trojans without the user knowing about it. However, recent research suggests the potential for more infections is vast.

"It's a matter of social engineering. You get an email or a message on Facebook from somebody that you haven't heard from in a long time, it says hey check out this video of us when we were kids and you don't recall ever making a video with that person," said Ben Bizzle.

Bizzle is Director of Technology at the Craighead County Public Library. He said many people who utilize the library's computers do so to look for jobs, check e-mail and play around on Facebook, along with other social networking sites.

"The library's Facebook account is for distributing information about events that are upcoming in the library and so forth. My Facebook account, for me it allows me to catch up with friends that I don't get to talk to, that I went to high school with or college with that have moved off and so forth," said Bizzle. "Folks that come into the library play games, the Farmville and Frontierville and those sorts of things."

Bizzle said web-sites oftentimes have rotating advertisements on page sidebars. He said Facebook ads are more than likely clean.

"All ads are submitted to Facebook and Facebook scrutinizes those ads for content, the links that they point to and so forth and things of that nature, so Facebook does a really good job of making sure that the advertising on Facebook is clean," said Bizzle.

Bizzle said the most common way to get infected through Facebook is through the site's messaging system.

"When somebody sends a message to somebody else on Facebook and if they're infected, an infected individual could send a message on Facebook to everybody on their friends list on Facebook," said Bizzle. "Even if you know who the person is, the potential exists for the threat because the folks who write viruses are pretty smart, and they know that you're less likely to open up something that came from somebody you don't know."

Bizzle said many users who become infected often wait until the last minute to get it repaired; however, there are cheap ways to avoid infection or wipe the virus away if you become so.

"Beyond using good common sense, you need to use good virus protection software. You need to make sure that you keep it current and updated. Make sure that it does regular scans on the system. If you happen to become infected with a virus, you start getting pop ups, the computer starts acting funny, really slowing down a whole lot, you're friends on Facebook say hey I'm getting messages from you that you know you're not sending, a good software program to use that I like to use is Malware Bytes. It's available on Malware AVG makes a good anti-virus software for free. All of these products are free by the way and I do encourage people to use free products when they're available to them to save themselves some money," said Bizzle.

Click here to go to AVG.

Click here to find Malware Bytes.

Click here to go to Microsoft's web-site.

"After you've run virus protection and virus cleaning software, if you're still having problems, the next step would probably be to go to one of the local computer shops and allow them to take a look at it and get it cleaned up for you," said Bizzle. "Once they realize they're infected, they need to do something. They can't sit around and accept the fact that they're computer is running slow because there's a reason for that slowdown in their computer and it may be propagating that virus to other people."

"Before you click a link or go to a web-site, you can look at the very bottom of your web-browser and you can see where that link it sending you, and if it's not the same web-page or family of web-pages or if you don't even recognize it, hit the stop button or close the browser," said Lemieux. "With those rotating ads being like the lottery, the more they change, the more likely you'll get infected. The more you go to a web-site, the more likely you'll get infected. especially if it's a mischievous web-site."

Bizzle said Facebook is still a much better site to visit than several other sites.

"You're far more likely to get malicious software of some sort from a porn site than you are from Facebook," said Bizzle. "The Facebook viruses that go around are oftentimes more malicious because most of the time the people creating those virus don't have a profit motive in creating them. It's more of a destructive sort of motivation that they've got."

"You probably don't want to click on every link that you find across the internet because that's not safe either. The punch the monkey advertisements are not what you want to be involved in because the potential exists those things can infect a computer," said Bizzle.

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