True computer viruses are quite rare these days. Most nasties are grouped under the umbrella term Malware – mal(bad) – ware (software) – literally bad software. These include trojan horses, exploits, worms, and increasing amounts of adware (advertising software.)
Potentially, an attacker can access your personal information, photos, documents, and can even record every stroke of your keyboard in order to steal passwords for bank accounts, ebay accounts etc. They can even install a rootkit, which is a modified version of windows, so nothing can be trusted, it will tell you your system is clean, and is often undetectable to anti-virus programmes
A common myth is that having an antivirus program is enough to keep you protected from malware & viruses. Although this sounds like common sense, there are ways malware can get past your antivirus. The main means is by an exploit. The more software programs you have installed on a computer, the bigger the “attack surface.” Any of these programs can be exploited. Programs such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, and Microsoft programs receive regular security updates, which should be installed as soon as possible. Even with everything up to date, there are still unknown (but known to bad guys) vulnerabilities which can be exploited. For this reason, your behaviour also needs to be cautious.
If you already have been infected by viruses or other malware, you might be able to remove it with your anti-virus product, but often, the virus can bypass your protection.
Contact us for more help if you suspect a virus infection.