No matter how careful you are with your computer, there is still a slight chance that your computer might get infected by infected by a malicious software (also known as malware).
Therefore, it is very important that you know the symptoms that indicate your computer might be infected. To learn about the different kinds of malware (virus, Trojan horse, worm, etc.) click here.
Common Symptoms of Virus Infection
Here are some of the most common symptoms that you should watch out:
1. Slow Computer Performance
It is a well-known fact that malware has the tendency to slow down your operating system, your internet speed, and the speed of your applications. However, before you conclude that your computer is infected, it is also good to check for other possible causes. Other causes may include lack of RAM memory, a fragmented system, lack of space on your hard drive, or other hardware issues.
Random pop-ups are a typical sign of spyware infection. Pop-ups can be a bit difficult to be removed from your system since their source isn’t always easy to trace. Pop-ups are not only annoying, they can be really malicious as well. Pop-ups usually come with other malware threats that are invisible to the user.
Here are some tips on how to avoid being a victim of spyware:
- Don’t click suspicious pop-up windows on websites or other applications.
- Don’t answer unexpected questions that appear out of nowhere.
- Be careful and cautious when downloading free applications as they can come with malware that looks like a legitimate file or application.
If your programs or your system keeps crashing for no reason or the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) appears regularly, there is definitely something wrong with your system. It is very important that you look into your computer to find out what’s wrong. We recommend that you run a complete scan on the system with a good antivirus product. It is also important to have a reliable security solution on your system that includes real-time scanning, automatic updates, and firewalls.
4. Suspicious Hard Drive Activity
One of the symptoms of an infected computer is a continuous excessive disk activity even when you’re not using it anymore. However, it is also important to consider that it can also be a hardware failure, not necessarily caused by malware.
5. Sudden Decrease of Hard Drive Space
This is another sign of malware activity since different kinds of malware use different kinds of methods to fill up all the available space in your hard drive.
6. Unusual High Network Activity
Has your computer been uploading or downloading huge amounts of data? You might wanna check out what’s going on. It could be something as simple as a background process you left running but it could also be something as big and threatening as a malware controlling your computer and its Internet access.
7. New Browser Home Page, New Toolbars, Browser Opens Unwanted Websites
Has your browser’s homepage been changed all of a sudden? Does a new toolbar seem to be placed at the top of your web browser? Have you tried accessing your favorite website but were sent to a different address? These are all signs that your computer has been infected. These usually occur when you visit a website and you accidentally click a nasty link or a pop-up window. Clicking on these triggers the download and install of secondary software which are not only annoying but can cause serious damage to your machine as well. Never click on links or pop-ups that look suspicious!
It is important that you run a complete scan as soon as possible to guarantee your computer’s health. However, these types of threats don’t easily go away so you usually have to run additional scans with a specialized software.
8. Unusual Messages and Alerts
These include programs opening and closing automatically, the Windows operating system shutting down or changing appearance, and operating system alerts that you lost access to some of your drives. Although this might be a technical issue, it is not wise to discard the possibility that a malware could be present on your system.
If you lost access to some important areas of your operating system, it’s time to prepare for the worst. There are extreme cases in which a complete wipe and reinstall of the operating system is taken into consideration.
9. Disabled Security Solutions
If your antivirus software doesn’t seem to work or the update module seems to be disabled, it is likely that you might have an infected machine. Some malware programs are specially designed to disable security programs, leaving your computer completely defenseless from attackers.
10. Your Contacts Receive Strange E-mails From You
Are your friends complaining about receiving e-mails from you or instant messages from your social media account that contains suspicious attachments or links? First, verify if those messages were sent from one of your accounts by checking your sent folder or your chat history. If you see nothing, those messages were probably delivered by an application that is totally out of your control.
To avoid situations like this, make sure that you always log out of all your online accounts, most especially when using a public computer or a shared gadget. It is also helpful to set strong passwords for your accounts. Complexity is key! Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. More importantly, use different passwords for different accounts to limit potential loss. Make it a habit to change your main passwords every month for extra safety.
When it comes to combatting malicious software, knowledge is your best weapon. Knowing how malware typically behaves on a regular system is very essential to staying safe and avoiding having your system wrecked or your identity stolen. It pays to understand how malware manifests itself on the system rather than simply installing a series of malware prevention software. Remember, it is easier to prevent a threat from becoming a reality rather than to take actions against it when it’s too late. You can read about effective prevention here *insert link to how to prevent your computer blah blah here*.