How do you know if you computer has been compromised by Malware? I am often asked the question. Malware can make your computer do really weird things all of which work to either make your computing life miserable or in the worst case scenarios actually steal your information.
Here are some signs that your computer may be infected.
1. Popup ads appear even when no browser is open. While not as common as they used to be, adware programs bombard their victims with advertisements.
2. Browser navigation gets redirected. Not every site redirect is malicious, but if you find that trying to reach Google takes you to an unfamiliar search site, you’ve almost certainly got a problem.
3. A security program you never installed pops up scary warnings. This one could almost be #1 on this list. Creating and distributing fake antivirus programs is a growing business. The perpetrators use drive-by downloads or other sneaky techniques to get the fake antivirus onto your system, then display scary warnings about made-up threats.
4. Posts you didn’t write appear on your social media pages. Malware focused on Facebook and other social media sites propagates by generating fake posts.
5. A program holds your PC for ransom. I have discussed Some malware programs literally hold your PC or data for ransom. Overt ransomware threats may encrypt all your pictures and documents and demand that you pay to get them back. Others try to obscure what they’re doing. For example, they may display a warning supposedly from the FBI stating that your computer was used to send spam and demanding that you pay a fine before you’re allowed to use it again. Of course, even if you do pay, you will not get your system back.
6. Suddenly you can’t use common system tools. A smart user, suspecting the presence of malware, might launch Task Manager to investigate, or check settings using Registry Editor. If you suddenly find that trying to use these or other system tools triggers a message saying your Administrator has disabled them, it may well be an attempt at self-defense by malware on your system.
If you think that malware has taken control of your PC, install a powerful antivirus utility immediately. Already got one? Then the malware got past the protection. This is much more common then you would think. This is simply because many times anti-virus company’s must respond the new virus threats after they are in the wild. This leaves your computer open to the threat – until you have updated the software which is why keeping your security software update is so critical. Nevertheless make sure your security software is up to date and run a full system scan if you think your PC has been compromised. If the scan does not eliminate the infection contact a technology professional as soon as possible. You definitely want to get that nasty, malicious program out of your system as soon as possible.