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14 Warning Signs that Your Computer is Malware-Infected
14 Warning Signs that Your Computer is Malware-Infected
Symptoms of a malware infection
It is a known fact that malware has the tendency to slow down your operating system, your Internet speed or the speed of your applications.
If you notice something like this and youíre not using any resource-heavy program or application, check for other causes first. It may be a lack of RAM memory, a fragmented system, a lack of space on your hard drive or maybe a hardware issue affecting your drive. These 10 tips will come in handy when evaluating such problems.
If you have already thoroughly verified these possible causes and all seems fine, you can start considering a potential malware infection.
One of the most annoying signs of malware is represented by the unwanted pop-up windows. Unexpected pop-ups which appear on the system are a typical sign of a spyware infection.
In this particular case, the main issue is created not only by the numerous pop-up windows that affect your Internet navigation, but also because it is quite difficult to remove them from the system.
Pop-ups are not only annoying, but they usually come bundled with other concealed malware threats, and which could be far more destructive for our systems.
To avoid spyware and its impact on our systems, keep in mind a few security practices:
To remove this type of threat, you need a very good security product against spyware. A few popular products capable of removing spyware from your system are Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and Destroy, Lavasoftís Ad-Aware and others. This guide can help you get rid of this pesky problem.
If your programs or your system crash constantly or the infamous BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) appears regularly, itís a clear warning that your system is not working properly and you should look into it.
There are two things that can cause this type of issues:
If you suspect a technical issue, multiple software problems may lead to this.
Are you running various programs which may conflict with each other? Are there any orphaned registry keys which have not been removed that could down and eventually crash your system?
Orphaned registry keys are pieces of data information that have been left behind during the process of uninstalling several programs from your computer. They donít only take up unnecessary space on the PC, but can represent a serious liability for the proper functionality of your computer. To clear them, you have the option of using the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) that can be opened in the search bar of Windows and then selecting the run command. The daunting part of this process is the fact that you have to manually remove these orphaned keys and this can be very tedious work for everybody.
Our recommendation is to run an automated cleaning session with the help of a specialized program such as CC Cleaner which is free. This will automatically scan missed and unused keys while also having the option to backup the data before the actual cleaning. After installing CCleaner, click the Registry icon (see the image below), select the items you want to remove, click on Scan for issues and a list of potential issues will be generated. Once the scan process is finished, you can review the list and click on Fix selected issues to solve the outstanding Registry issues. You will be asked to backup changes.
If you are checking for malware, simply run a complete scan on the system with a good antivirus product. It is important to have a reliable security solution on your system, which should include real-time scanning, automatic update and a firewall.
To find the best solution, check the antivirus test results run by big company names in the security industry, such as AV Comparatives, PC Magazine, AV-TEST or Virus Bulletin and select the best antivirus solution for your system.
4. SUSPICIOUS HARD DRIVE ACTIVITY
Another warning sign of a potential malware infection on your system is the hard drive activity. If you notice that your disk continues to exhibit excessive activity even when you donít use it and there is no program or download running at that moment, this could be the right time to check your system for malware.
We have to mention that another possible cause for the abnormal hard disk activity could be a hardware failure of the disk. You should also take this into consideration.
We should mention that it helps checking what programs and processes are constantly accessing your hard drive, so you can easily detect unusual activity. This article shows 5 ways to keep an eye on those programs accessing your drives.
5. RUNNING OUT OF HARD DRIVE SPACE
Regarding the hard drive, you also need to check if your physical storage space has been increasing lately or if some of your files disappeared or changed their names.
This is another sign of malware activity, since there are numerous types of malicious programs which use various methods to fill up all the available space in the hard drive and cause it to crash.
6. UNUSUALLY HIGH NETWORK ACTIVITY
There are cases where the user is not connected to the Internet through his browser, and there is no program that may connect to online servers to download or upload any data, but high network activity can still be observed.
First of all, we need to check the following:
If the answer to all these questions is No, then maybe you should check where all that traffic is going.
7. NEW BROWSER HOMEPAGE, NEW TOOLBARS and/or UNWANTED WEBSITES ACCESSED WITHOUT YOUR INPUT
This usually happens when you visit a website and you accidentally click a link or a pop-up window. This triggers unwanted software to download and install on your device. Its effects are not only annoying, but also malicious.
Run a complete scan with your security solution as soon as possible. Because these type of threats donít go away easily. Make sure you run additional scans with specialized software, such as anti-spyware programs as the ones mentioned above.
8. UNUSUAL MESSAGES OR PROGRAMS THAT START AUTOMATICALLY
A few warning signs should really make you suspicious. If any of these happen, pay closer attention and try finding the cause:
Though the root cause may be a technical one, it could also be a sign that malware has compromised your system. If this is the case and you lost access to some important areas of your operating system, you need to prepare for the worst. These are the cases when a complete wipe and reinstall of the operating system is taken into consideration.
9. YOUR SECURITY SOLUTION IS DISABLED
If your antivirus solution doesnít seem to work anymore or if the Update module seems to be disabled, then check to see what happened immediately!
You should know that some types of malware are especially designed to disable security solutions, leaving you without any defense. If you already tried to reboot your computer, close and open the security solution and all your troubleshooting efforts were useless, you could consider the malware infection scenario.
This is especially the case since traditional antivirus solutions are sometimes unable to block and remove advanced malware, such as ransomware or financial malware. There are a couple of strong reasons why this is happening, and you should read about them, so you can enhance your protection by adding multiple layers.
For a more in-depth guide on how to remove all types of malware, not just spyware and adware, we recommend you check out our malware removal guide.
10. YOUR FRIENDS TELL YOU THAT THEYíRE GETTING STRANGE MESSAGES FROM YOU
First of all, you need to verify whether those emails or messages were sent from one of your accounts (so check your Sent Items folder in your email/social media account). If thereís nothing there, those messages could have been delivered from an application which is out of your control.
If you discover the messages were sent from one of your accounts, take these steps:
11. NEW, UNFAMILIAR ICONS ON DESKTOP + BATTERY LIFE DRAINS QUICKLY
If you are noticing unknown and new icons on the desktop of your computer, you may have downloaded a piece of software that contains PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). Also known as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications), these are software programs that you most likely didnít want to install on your computer.
They are considered to be malware and can do a lot a damage by collecting private information, showing annoying ads or pop-ups on the desktop or adding toolbars on your browser. If infected with PUPs, you can use this useful guide to remove them from Windows.
Did your cellphoneís battery life is draining fast? You may have lots of applications and program running, such as games or streaming services, or, the worst scenario, it could be a virus infection affecting your device. This mainly happened because most of the devices didnít receive the latest system updates, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks. Read this article to find out how mobile malware has evolved in 2016.
12. YOU SEE UNUSUAL ERROR MESSAGES
If you see unusual error messages saying that you have missing or corrupt files folders on your computer, it could be a warning sign that is infected with malware. These type of messages can suggest your PC has been compromised and affect its system performance, making the apps and programs run slowly. Pay attention to these errors, run an antivirus program and make sure your operating system is up to date.
13. YOU ARE UNABLE TO ACCESS THE CONTROL PANEL, TASK MANAGER, REGISTRY EDITOR OR COMMAND PROMPT
Do you find yourself in the situation when you canít access the Control Panel, Task Manager, Registry Editor or Command Prompt? This is another sign that your computer is vulnerable and exposed to potential cyber attacks. To keep your PC safe and protected, itís recommended to run a full scan of your system using a good antivirus program. For more protection, we warmly suggest using a proactive security solution to keep your confidential information properly safe.
14. EVERYTHING SEEMS TO WORK PERFECTLY NORMAL
When it comes to keeping your data safe and secure, you need to be vigilant and careful, even if things might look normal. Unfortunately, there are some cases when different types of malware can hide their activity, leave no visible marks and still infect your computer. Everything may seem to work perfectly normal on your PC, until a bot on your system could silently await for instructions from ITS control and command system, accessing and collecting your personal information.