When it comes to a virus infection on your computer it’s better to be safe then sorry. In today’s world the internet has many shady actors that are trying get you to miss click and open some bad code to infect your system or steal your data.
What do they want with my data?
Well, first you probably do some form of online banking or use a credit card online. You probably have some form of saved passwords to other computers, websites or systems that could be very valuable. These are very popular targets for thieves. Another thing is you have a computer. That computer could be miss used by bots or hackers to attack other systems on the internet.
Alright, let’s discuss some of the signs that your computer might be infected with a virus, Trojan, rootkit or whatever bad name we can give them.
Random windows opening
When you turn on your computer you might have a black window that opens then closes (CMD). This could be a sign that you have some shady trying to run on login. This could of course be something legitimate, but if I was working on your computer I’d be thinking “hmmm.”
Your computer hangs
I’m not just talking about having 100 Microsoft Excel windows open. Say your using your computer with a Firefox browser open and your email and your computer just all the sudden hangs for a few seconds. Sure, this could be several things – but I would make a mental note of this.
Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) says so
Sometimes with infections your ISP will send you an email or even worse if block your internet if your connection is doing something bad (like scanning ranges of IP addresses). They will usually have to block your connection if they get enough complaints.
Your computer won’t start after a reboot
Yes, malware can stop your computer from starting. A boot sector infection tries to launch before your computer starts. Sometimes this can brick your computer if it doesn’t do it correctly or sets malformed data to the sector.
Your internet is very slow
If you have one computer not doing anything and your internet is normally fast – it could be a virus using up your Internet’s bandwidth. It could be legitimate programs running in the background (like uTorrent with too many threads). It could also be a bot sending files to other computers on the internet.
Random pop-ups or strange window errors
If you get random internet pop-ups without a browser being opened, it’s a good sign you might have adware. You don’t really see that this much anymore – but it’s a sign. Another sign could be if you get popups that look like strange Windows errors, except they use strange icons or have spelling errors in their messages. Lots of shady code tries to pretend to be Microsoft to get users to do further actions like click on “ok”, “yes”, “I agree” to launch even more shady code on your computer.
If your computer is beeping a lot, or you hear the Windows harp sound or some other notification sound going on more than normal, that could also be a sign. Malware will try and use legitimate subsystems on your computer to by-pass security technologies. Some of these technologies generate normal Windows sounds by default.
File and folder changes
If your files are all renamed, deleted, or changed to strange files extensions like <filename>.locky or some other weird file extension – you could have ransomware or some other infection on your system. Also, if you have files and folders that are hidden could be another sign.
Can’t download or run antivirus software
Another trick malware uses is to edit the Windows host file (the file that lets you define IP address and their matching internet names – i.e., 220.127.116.11 google.com). An old trick is to setup update.norton.com to 127.0.0.1 so when the software updates there is no connection. The malware has pointed the update server to your local computer, so it never updates.
If you open your email and you get a few hundred bounces back messages in your email are usually a clear sign of an infection. The same could be said for strange social media direct messages or messages from messaging clients like Skype, Telegram, Discord, etc. Usually, the malware will spam out to your contacts so the person will click on it because it came from a trusted source (i.e., you).
Out of drive space fast
If you look and have 100GB of drive space, then the next day you have almost 0 with little to no computer user. It could be that something shady is loading your computer with strange code or pirated material. It could be another sign that you have a malware infection.
That’s my quick 1, 2, 3 on basic signs that your computer could be infected with malware or a virus. Of course, the best thing to do is have someone with say 20+ years’ experience (like me) in reviewing your computer.
I can normally cleanup infections with remote support. In some cases, it’s not possible to as some malware likes to kill of remote support software. If that’s the case, I would need the computer so I can work on it directly.
If you think you have a computer virus or malware and want someone to look your computer over with you and or have a conversation about it in general, please reach out.
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