Recovering from a Worm or Virus Infection
How do you know if your network has been infected by a malicious program such as a worm or virus? Unfortunately, there are no identifying standards, but there are a number of telling symptoms. You may have noticed performance issues with your computer. Perhaps your web browser keeps crashing. Maybe some of your files or programs will not open. When these conditions occur, it's time to investigate and trace the route of the problem.
More often than not, worms and viruses have some type of impact on your computer, whether it's subtly impacting the normal functions or completely erasing files. The best way to learn if you've truly been infected is to run an anti-virus scanner, which will alert you of malicious codes. If harmful items are detected, you need to take immediate action to minimize the damage, get on the road to recovery and stay protected.
What You Should Do to Recover from an Infection
If the infection occurs in a network setting, you should instantly contact the IT department or system administrators. The sooner the investigation begins, the sooner your computer and other machines in the network can be restored. If the infection occurs at home, immediately disconnect your laptop or desktop computer from the internet. This will prevent viruses and intruders from accessing data and making changes to the system, essentially giving you a bit of control.
After taking the first step, you must work on ridding the system of infection. If an anti-virus program is installed on your computer, you should manually perform a full-system scan. In some cases, a worm or virus can have such an impact that it renders anti-virus software useless.
If the program cannot detect or remove the infection, you may need to completely reinstall the operating system, a move that is liable to erase every file and program on your computer. After reinstalling the operating system, be sure to implement another anti-virus program along with patches for all known system vulnerabilities. Furthermore, your anti-virus solution should be kept current with the latest updates in order to protect the latest threats.
Limiting the Chance of Another Infection
Dealing with the recovery efforts caused by a worm or virus can be very frustrating. These troublesome infections can cost your business a lot of time, money and sensitive data. The following precautions can be taken to protect yourself against future infections:
Change all passwords - Regardless if you lost any sensitive data or not, your original passwords may have been compromised during the time of infection. For this reason, you should immediately change every system password including those corresponding to web sites.
Put up a firewall - A firewall will help to prevent many infections by restricting access from malicious traffic. When installing a program, be sure that your firewall is always turned "ON."
Use anti-spyware program - Your anti-virus program may protect you from worms and viruses, but what about other threats? Since malicious programs such as spyware have the ability to download viruses and other infections, it's wise to implement additional technology.
Last but not least, you can take extra precautions by backing up sensitive data on an external storage medium. This will enable you to rebound quickly if worms or viruses happen to strike again.