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10 Signs Your Computer is Infected with Malware

You’ve probably had to deal with malware at some point in your cyber life. Which is why you more than likely have a trusted anti-virus software that keeps the big internet scaries at bay. However, malware continues to grow, with many evolving to bypass your antivirus. In fact, in 2016 over 18 million new malware samples were captured. And the really bad stuff (like ransomware) is on the rise. So just how do you know if your computer is already infected? We’ve compiled 10 of the most common signs to help you diagnose your device.

1. Your computer is running painfully slow.

Do you feel like it takes forever for your operating system to boot up or that you’re constantly waiting for your programs to startup? It might be malware. First, determine if it’s from lack of RAM memory, a fragmented system, a hardware issue or if you’re running low on space on your hard drive.  Not sure how to do any of that? Our blog post will walk you through it!

Your computer is running painfully slow.

2. You notice suspicious hard drive activity.

Another common sign of malware infection is if your disk exhibits excessive activity even when you aren’t using it or there is no program running. Check to see if you do have programs and processes that are constantly accessing your hard drive. If you don’t see any, it usually comes down to two possibilities: malware or hardware failure. We recommend checking with the experts to diagnose and fix both.

3. You’re running low on hardware space.

Another symptom of malware infection is disappearing files and changing file names. The reason this occurs if the program is trying to fill up the entire hard drive to cause a crash.

4. Pop-ups, pop-ups everywhere!

Pop-ups are super annoying as it is, but they are even more intrusive if your computer is infected with malware. A bombardment of pop-up windows can come with a host of other concealed malware. Often you’ll get these if you click on suspicious pop-up windows, if you answer unsolicited emails or when you download free applications from an untrustworthy source.

Pop-ups, pop-ups everywhere!

5. Constant crashes.

Your system might be infected with malware if your programs or system crashing is a common occurrence. This goes hand in hand with frequently seeing the Blue Screen of Death.

While it could be a technical issue from running various conflicting programs together, or having orphaned registry keys that haven’t been removed, this is usually a telltale sign your computer has been infected.   

6. Your browser homepage has changed.

Most of us have Google (or your preferred search engine) as a default homepage for a browser, so you should notice quickly if it changes to something else. You might also notice either add-ons to your toolbar or even a whole new toolbar. These point to a virus. You’ll probably also start being redirected to unintended sites, often which will try to phish for your personal information. Usually, if you are experiencing this it’s because you accidentally clicked a pop-up or link that caused the malicious software to install on your computer.

Here are some ways to spot and avoid phishing attempts.

7. Unusual error messages.

While most of us don’t pay too much attention to error messages, if you suspect you have a malware infection, keep an eye out for ones that say you’ve lost access to some of your drives. The cause could be technical, but more than likely it’s the cause of malware and if that’s the case, a complete wipe may be necessary for your computer.

8. Your friends are getting weird messages from you.

If any of your contacts reach out to you to say they’ve received a weird message from you, it’s quite possibly malware to blame. First, determine if you’ve been hacked or if it’s malware. Check your sent folder. If the message isn’t there, that means it was probably sent from an application that you probably don’t have access to. This is a sign of malicious activity.

If is there, that means your account has been compromised. You’ll want to go through and log out of everything and change all your passwords. Closely monitor your bank accounts for suspicious activity as well.

Your friends are getting weird messages from you.

Check out our tips for managing your passwords.

9. Unfamiliar desktop icons.

If you suddenly start seeing unfamiliar icons on your desktop, it’s possible you downloaded a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program). These pieces of malware collect your private information and often come with intrusive ads and pop-ups as well as add-ons to your browser.

10. Disabled antivirus.

Going back to the beginning, you probably have faith in your antivirus software, but advanced malware (like ransomware) can actually disable it. Check to see if there’s an update that causing the disconnect first. If everything seems fine with the program, get help fast as it’s malware.

If you are experiencing any of these, you’ll want to act quickly to try and save as much of your information as possible. Contact the experts at Friendly PC to fix the problem and for solutions to guard yourself against future potential cyber attacks.