Viruses and spyware

What is a ‘virus’?

A virus is a malicious program designed to infect your computer causing harm or disrupting computer operations. Viruses can be downloaded in a number of ways:

  • From the internet as a rogue program
  • Saved as an attachment in an e-mail
  • Saved on to another device such as a flash/thumb drive.

Common signs of viruses

There are some common effects that would suggest your computer may have a problem. These include:

  • Your computer shows more errors than usual
  • Your computer is very slow
  • You can’t update your security software
  • Strange content has appeared on your computer desktop
  • When you are browsing the internet you are directed to pages you have not chosen to go to
  • When you open a website, ‘pop-ups’ appear
  • Windows open that are difficult to close
  • There are unexpected or unknown processes running in the Windows Task Manager
  • Browser refuses to open secure websites.

What if my computer has a virus?

If you think your computer has been infected, do not use it to buy anything online or access any online accounts that contain your bank details or any other personal information.

You should run a full scan of your computer with a reputable and up-to-date virus scanner. This will remove or disable most viruses. You should then:

  • Disconnect your computer from the internet or network
  • Shut your computer down.
  • Do not transfer files to or from the infected PC so as not to spread the virus to other computers
  • Ensure your computer has all the correct updates
  • If, after running a full scan, the virus is still active, seek professional help from a reputable computer technician.

Reporting fraud

If you're a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response dial 999.

If it is a non-emergency situation,

call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You can also report fraud or find further advice and information on the Action Fraud website.