Here is a situation that occurs all too often, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it likely will, sometime in the future. Essentially, you’re working on your computer, on something relatively important, and pop-ups start to appear all over your computer screen. But that’s not the end of it, applications and files take considerably longer to load. It’s at this point you start to wonder whether there’s something wrong with your system, whether it has been infected with malware.
The unfortunate reality is that it likely has been, it’s possible a virus has infiltrated your system and is in the early stages of compromising every area of it.
There are so many warning signs for you to look out for. Each of which let you know that a malicious file may be hiding in your system. It’s for this reason why you want to ensure you are aware of all these things, so that you can take the necessary action.
In this article, you will learn a number of the most common warning signs that a system has been compromised by malware. So be sure to check them out, and to learn them, so they are etched into your mind.
1. The Slowdown
If you don’t have any real resource hungry applications on your system, such as Dreamweaver or Photoshop, but your system is running much slower than usual, this could indicate that a malicious file has gotten onto it. One of the most common symptoms of a malware infection is a slower PC. Usually it will impact the way applications run, but will affect the computer overall.
If your system takes a couple more seconds to start up, is taking its time to load up your favourite applications, and behaving generally sluggish, then these are all positive signs of malware. If you’re currently feeling these effects, then I recommend you run a full scan of your system, using your current internet security solution.
2. Your homepage Changed by Itself
If you’ve noticed that your web browser loads up a different page, when you start it for the first time. Or that a new toolbar appears to show up in the taskbar or it’s redirecting you to a website other than the one you’ve attempted to visit, then these are positive signs of some kind of malware.
Such viruses can get onto your computer, when you visit a particular website and click on the wrong thing.
In doing so, unwanted software is then downloaded to your system. These symptoms are not only annoying, but the virus hacker can use these malicious files to monitor what you are doing.
So what options are available to you?
Well, first thing you can do, is change your homepage back to what it was originally.
However, the actual virus itself that is causing all these issues is a much more rooted issue. Which means you will need to take more drastic measures. Again, a malware scan is the best place to start.
3. Your Security Is Disabled
If you’re antivirus scanner has stopped working, or the update component of the scanner, has stopped receiving new updates, this could quite possibly be a malicious file at work that has infiltrated your computer. If you’re unable to successfully troubleshoot the symptoms, then you may want to consider the possibility that a virus has infiltrated your computer.
4. Unfamiliar Icons Are On Your Desktop
If you turn on your system, only to notice icons to programs you’re unfamiliar with, these are most likely PuPs or Potentially Unwanted Programs. Such programs range from small harmless tools, to potentially dangerous malicious programs, capable of displaying unwanted pop-ups and ads on your desktop Window.
In most cases, these PuPs are installed alongside another program, likely a program you intentionally installed. Oftentimes they will ask for your consent, before installing said programs, so the onus is on you, to agree or disagree, so that you know what you’re signing up for, every time you add a new program to your system.
However, while being cognizant of these things, it’s always best you utilising good internet practices at all times, as it will help protect you against PuPs. The most effect tool is the internet security program.
5. Hard Drive Issues
You may be very concerned, if your hard drive starts to make loud noises and disk trashes excessively, when you’re not doing anything on the computer. In most cases, when this does occur, it’s usually an indication of malware. Another sign is when your hard drive runs out of storage space very quickly, even though you haven’t installed much applications on it. It’s very common for these malicious files to consume a considerable amount go storage space on your hard drive. So we should be aware of that.
6. Annoying Pop-ups
One symptom which is probably the most common and easily the most annoying, is unsolicited pop-ups. If you have pop-ups appearing all over your screen, this is a positive sign of a malicious file. Not only are these pop-ups irritating, but they also act as a hindrance. Moreover, the advertisements are also known to contain additional malware. So if you’re not careful, you could end up making your situation worse. It’s for this reason, you want to act fast, to eliminate the main symptom.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.