The way the internet permeates every part of daily life has made consumers and business the targets of constant virus and malware attacks. Whether it’s through illicit scripts in ads or hidden in apps and plugins, there are a lot of ways for a computer to get infected with viruses and malware. Most of these programs do whatever they can to hide their presence from the user, but some symptoms can indicate an infection. Here are five warning signs of viruses and malware on a computer.
Spam Emails and Other Online Messages
One of the most obvious signs of a computer infection is when a computer begins sending out emails and other online messages without the user’s knowledge. These messages normally contain links that will infect other computers and continue the chain. If someone mentions that they received a spam email from your account, it’s a clear sign that something is wrong.
This advice extends to other devices and platforms. Many spammers use free browser plugins or mobile apps to get people to accept malware on their computer. Depending on the kinds of access they have, this can lead to messages being sent from apps like Facebook and Twitter. Remember to check the permissions on plugins and apps to ensure you aren’t agreeing to more access than is necessary.
Computer Is Running Slow
Many people will not notice virus or malware activity until it begins to affect their computer’s operating speed. Though malware and viruses are designed to run in the background without being noticed, having an unseen program working in the background will always slow down a system. A computer only has so much RAM available at any one time, so that’s a good place to check to see if the computer is running slower.
It’s important to note that there are a lot of potential causes for a computer slow down, especially for older systems. Computer programs and platforms are often being updated to work on the newest hardware, and older systems may have trouble keeping up after a few years. 911 Computer offers a service that can help speed up computers by optimizing their systems for the current environment. However, if a computer is running slower and all other possibilities have been eliminated, then it may be a sign of an infection of viruses or malware.
Programs Open and Close Quickly
Another sign that a computer may be infected with a virus or malware is when a program opens and closes very quickly. Viruses and malware want to be as invisible as possible, but there are times when a program window will be unavoidable. In these situations, malware and viruses open and close the window as quickly as possible. Most users may not notice the program opening and closing, and if they do, it happens too quickly to respond.
Like the previous warning sign, there are some legitimate situations when a program will open and close quickly. For example, a computer may have system that periodically checks the health of the system. Computer users can check the installed programs to see if any of them should display the behavior being seen. If none of them should open and close quickly, or it’s happening too often, then it’s a sign of a malware or virus infection on your computer.
Popup Ads; New Browser Home Page; Linked Text in Browser
People often think of viruses and malware as programs that are trying to steal information or scam people out of money. However, there are some viruses and malware that make money by artificially increasing their ad revenue. These kinds of viruses and malware are easy to see by the way they influence a user’s online experience. For example, if a computer starts generating popup ads on every site you visit or automatically changes the starting URL for the browsers, it’s a clear sign of some form of infection.
Some of the more brazen forms of malware will add a toolbar to the browser or insert paid links on every page visited. For example, it can create a hyperlink for every term on the page that can linked to a product search. These programs are counting on the fact that some users will assume the plugin and links are part of general update and not part of malware or virus attack. Unlike other forms of malware, these kinds of plugins can be packaged with legitimate software or free downloads. As a rule of thumb, if you’re downloading software and it offers you a free toolbar plugin, make sure to deselect that option before completing the installation.
Unusual Modem and Hardware Activity
Monitoring the system activity is another way to detect signs of virus and malware infections. Most viruses and malware communicate back to a server, and that activity can be seen in your modem or hardware activity. Viruses and malware can manifest itself in a computer running slowly, as was mentioned before, but it can also be seen in slower internet speeds. There are programs you can download that can show you the connections your computer is trying to make. If your computer is continually connecting to services you don’t recognize, even when the browsers are closed, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
Even if your computer isn’t running slower, if it’s working harder than it should be for no apparent reason, there could be a virus or malware. For example, your computer will turn on a fan once the processor gets too hot. If your fan turns on, but there are no programs running, it could mean that there is something hidden that is running in the background.
Detecting malware and virus activity is only half the battle when it comes to protecting your computer. Scrubbing a viral infection from a computer can take time and expertise. Most modern viruses and malware are designed to resist regular methods of cleaning. They hide themselves in hidden files and scripts that only activate once it appears the computer has been cleaned. If you need help cleaning a virus or malware from your computer, contact 911 Computer at 713-364-6572 or visit our website to schedule an onsite visit to clean your system.