Your computer screen flashes an alert from your anti-virus program that a virus has been detected on your computer again. Only this time, your entire operating system was lost when you tried to reboot. Now what? Can you file a law suit over a computer virus? Well…yes, no and maybe.

1. Unplug your machine right away and take the CPU (Central Processing Unit, otherwise known as the hard drive) to a computer repair shop. If you’re very lucky, they may be able to track down where the virus came from, such as an email attachment or downloaded file from a file sharing network. If this is your personal computer, you may be able to bring a suit against the source of the virus. However, there’s every likelihood that it was passed on to those places from another unknown source.

2. Contact your network administrator if you work on site at a facility and use a shared network. However, if a suit is then filed, it will be in the name of the company which owns the network equipment as business property.

3. Consider whether the virus seemed to attack shortly after experiencing unwelcome pop-ups from a Web site you recently visited. Pop-ups are a form of spam and some can contain malicious codes, even a virus. If that’s the case, you may be able to get the attention of the Federal Trade Commission.

4. Don’t give up. Anyone deliberately trying to damage a computer or network is guilty of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. File a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to look into the matter.

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