While most people are aware that a computer virus can steal your personal information, and make off with your data, some people forget that viruses can hijack one’s entire system. I have talked previously about how malware can link your computer to a botnet, and use it as a tool to launch assaults on networks and websites. However, while this can be mildly inconvenient for the user due to slower load times, you are unlikely to be arrested because your computer participated in a cyber attack without your knowledge. Typically, these botnets will have thousands if not millions of computers, so clearly there can be no real effort to punish those who have infected computers.
With that said, there are other nefarious uses of malware, which could end up causing a multitude of problems for the owner of a computer. An infected computer can be used to do nearly anything, including a host of illicit operations. Sometimes pedophiles will use infected computers to store or transfer information and data which is illegal to possess. In one case, a man was only cleared of child pornography charges after it was shown that his computer was visiting up to 40 sites a minute, and doing this while he was away from it. A piece of malware had infected his machine, and was using the hardware to browse and store child pornography. In the time between his arrest and his acquittal, he lost his friends, his job, and spent over $250000 of his own money.
Not everyone has that kind of money to spend, and this defense is viewed (often rightly) by skepticism from law enforcement. Claiming that a computer virus downloaded illegal files is similar to the infamous claim that a packet of drugs may have been thrown into your car window by a passerby. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens, and if you are unlucky, you might not get a chance to clear your name. That kind of accusation could leave you without friends, family, and alone in the world.
So, if you value your security, take the time to ensure that your computer is not infected by a virus or other malware. Taking proper security steps will help, but if there is ever a worry that you might be infected, do not delay. Take your computer to a reputable repair shop, and have them check it thoroughly for any sign of malware.