A brief explainer on signs your computer could be infected

Mar 11, 2023, 5:00 AM
(Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)...
(Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
(Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Q: I’m seeing unusual activity on my computer – what are the signs of it being infected?

A: Malware is a general term for any kind of “malicious” software designed to exploit users or cause harm to their devices.

Signs of a malware infection can be somewhat obvious or in some cases very difficult to detect, depending upon the goals of the author of the software.

Malware that’s designed to exploit users for their personal information, ransomware or ID theft is the most dangerous, so it’s important not to ignore strange behavior from your computer.

Slow Performance

One of the most obvious signs of malware is noticeably slower performance.

If you’re waiting a long time for your computer to start up or it seems to lag regularly, it’s not necessarily a sign of malware, but it should be investigated either way.

Your computer has a finite number of resources that malware or running excessive programs can silently be consuming, which can lead to diminished performance.

Determining what is causing the slow performance will help you determine if you have been infected or just have too much automatically loading up when you start your computer.

Browser Changes

Your web browser has become one of the most valuable targets for malware because your daily Internet activity can be monetized by bad actors by redirecting you to their sites and services.

Some malware will hijack your browser and change your start page or default search engine, or change where and how you connect to the Internet, which can force you to malicious websites and cause everything to seem sluggish.

They can also add new toolbars or add-ons that appear in your browser’s headers.

Unusual Notifications

If you see unusual messages or errors popping up, this can be an indication of a form of malware that has infected your operating system. This type of malware can also create new icons on your Desktop or add programs that you don’t recognize.

Message Inquiries From Others

If your friends start asking if you sent a strange email or social media message, it’s possible malware has infiltrated your email program or social media profiles.

Disabled Security Program

Internet security programs can help thwart malware attempts, which is why some target them first. If you notice that your security program has been disabled, this is a big red flag and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Steps To Take

Malware can often take advantage of security issues, so make sure you keep your computer and its security software updated to plug known security holes.

If you believe your system is infected, disconnecting from the Internet will prevent it from transmitting to others while you track down and remove any malicious code.

If you think you have malware designed to steal your online credentials, change your passwords on another computer or from your phone or tablet immediately.

If you have an Internet security program installed, perform a full scan of your entire system.

Review your browser’s installed extensions, add-ons or plug-ins, and remove anything you don’t use or recognize.

If you don’t have a good backup of your critical data, get one and make sure it’s disconnected from your computer or use an online backup service.

Data Doctors

(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Here’s what we know about Facebook’s potential new monthly charge

It was easy to tell anyone that anything claiming Facebook would start charging users was a hoax, but all that changed last month.
5 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Understanding email subscription notifications spamming

What you experience is "subscription bombing" used for reasons that can range from being a nuisance to distracting you from other activities.
19 days ago
(Mesa Police Department Photo)...

Mesa police seeking 27-year-old woman wanted in murder case

Mesa police are searching for a 27-year-old woman wanted in a murder case after a man was found dead inside a bedroom in early February.
23 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Benefits and concerns with using 3rd-party authentication apps

An alternative to setting up the text messaging-based authentication is by installing an app that provides the authentication codes.
26 days ago
(Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)...
Data Doctors

What to know when buying a processor for a new computer

If you use your computer for complex tasks such as gaming, editing or programming, you’ll need to pay attention to the processor you buy.
1 month ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Why scammers love using gift cards to steal money

The use of gift cards is a favorite vehicle by scammers to extract money from victims for a variety of reasons.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
A brief explainer on signs your computer could be infected