As we close with our top 5 cybersecurity myths, we have to include one that is a common problem. The fifth myth is “I’ll know right away if my computer is infected”. This is a common misconception as it can be a slower process and a sneaky one. Cybercriminals today rely on stealth- the longer they’re on your machine undetected, the more damage they can do. Your computer could even be part of a botnet- a network of remotely-controlled computers that send spam emails or participate in widespread attacks- and you might not even know it.
You may not know if your computer is infected right away as you may think some of the symptoms are normal. It’s important to be aware of the most common warning signs displayed on your computer in order to know if you could possibly have a virus.
Here are the most common warning signs:
The Computer is Slowing Down
This is one of the most common symptoms and it’s super frustrating. One of the known facts of malware is to slow your operating system down. In order to find out if it’s truly malware, you need to investigate further if your computer is running slow. Could be your system’s RAM memory is low, no storage space on your hard drive, your browser may be using too many computer resources, fragmented system, or computer has not been updated in a while.
Annoying Ads are Popping Up
If malware is on your computer you will typically see unexpected pop-ups appear on your screen, which is called spyware. Spyware collects the user’s sensitive information without them even knowing. Spyware is also very difficult to remove from your computer. To play it safe, never click on a suspicious pop-up.
Computer is Crashing
If you have ever seen the blue screen of death, then you know what we are referring to. No matter what you are trying to do on your computer, it keeps freezing then a blue screen comes up and an unexpected shutdown occurs. This means that you either have a malware issue or some type of technical issue.
Pop Up Messages Appearing
If you receive the message that says, “You’re running out of disk space on Windows (C:)” then that means there is no free space left on the hard drive (in this case, C). This can be a malware issue or a storage issue.
Internet Traffic Increases
If you notice that your Internet traffic suspiciously increases every time you start up your PC then you could have a malware infection. Check for the last update on your computer, if there is a program or app that is downloading your data, and if there is a large download that you have forgotten about and it’s still running in the background. If none of these reasons are a reason for your increased Internet traffic, then you need to seek attention for malware infection.
Browser Homepage Changed on Its Own
This is when your computer’s homepage changes or a new tollbar is showing up and you didn’t have anything to do with either, then this could be signs of malware. This typically will happen when you visit a website and accidentally click on a link or pop-up. Once you click, it triggers the software to download on your computer and can be malware and steal your data.
Security Protection is Disabled
If your security protection doesn’t seem to be working or you are getting a message saying that the protection is disabled, then you need to take a look if it’s a technical issue or malware. Malware can sneak in and disable your security protection leaving you without any defense while on your computer.
Receiving Strange Messages from Friends
Have you ever had a friend send you strange messages/emails or even suspicious links that is not something they typically send? If so, then most likely they have been infected with malware. Malware can spread quickly and easily through social media sites like Facebook. If this is something that your friends or you comes in contact with you need to take the following steps: log out of your account, change your password (use unique and strong passwords), and start using a 2-factor authentication to have an extra security layer.
Unfamiliar Icons are Displayed on my Computer
If you have noticed new icons and not sure what is going on, you may have downloaded a sneaky malicious program like PUPs which is potentially unwanted programs. This type of program can do a lot of damage and can cause unfamiliar icons to appear, displaying ads, adding toolbars, and can expose you to leaking your data. Remember to be careful when pop-ups or downloads appear about installing additional tools as it could easily be a malicious program.
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, then do not rule out malware as your computer could be infected. Remember to educate yourself on how malware works and attacks your system and how you mitigate its impact. If you are still unsure of what steps to take to prevent malware, then contact the industry leaders here at Triada Networks. We have over two decades of experience, collaborate with the Global Cyber Alliance, affordable for smaller businesses, and we’ll be by your side when you need us. Schedule your free IT security report card today to see how your security is shaping up.
Sore, Bianca. 13+ Warning Signs that Your Computer is Malware-Infected (Updated 2019).28 June 2019. https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/warning-signs-operating-system-infected-malware/