Do you notice that your PC is suddenly a lot slower or are there strange processes running of which you do not know the exact origin? Then you may have fallen victim to malware. However, the signals are not always clear. That's why we're giving you five tips to find out if you've been a victim of malware.
Of course, the best way to find out if you have malware is to run a system-wide scan. If all is well, you already do that automatically, but suppose that is not the case, what are the signals that point to malware?
If your computer just starts to slow down overnight, it could be a sign that it has malware on it. Especially when simple apps such as the calculator are suddenly opened very slowly.
Malware can take up a lot of computing power in the background, leaving your computer running out of system resources for your own tasks. Nowadays you can also do this via your browser, for example to mine cryptocoins.
Your browser will take you to another website at the strangest moments. For example, you open Google and you end up on a site you don't know with some unknown search engine with all kinds of advertisements. Even then you know that you are suffering from malware.
When pop-ups appear constantly, even when you don't have any browsers open, you can assume that you have malware (or at least bloatware) on your PC. Here too, the aim is to earn money by clicking on these pop-ups and being sent to websites.
Unknown software and processes
Pop-ups are constantly appearing with threatening notifications from security software you don't know. Software that mainly encourages you to take action now (because otherwise...). Anxiety is always a good trigger to make people think less. Run a scan as soon as possible if you are experiencing these types of notifications.
If you encounter processes in your operating system's task manager that you don't know about and that aren't normally there, this could be a sign of malware. Search the Internet for the name of such a process to see if it is indeed something unwanted.
Also, such processes often run constantly, even when you are not using your computer. If you notice disk activity and the like while no backup or maintenance processes are running, it's a good idea to check for malware.
Strange posts on social media
Suddenly messages appear on Twitter and Facebook under your name that you have not posted at all. That something is going on, that's for sure and it's important to do something about it as soon as possible, because often those messages cause you to infect others. Incidentally, it does not necessarily have to be the case that you have malware on your PC, it could also be that your social media account was 'just' hacked.
The same goes for email messages and other communication tools. Do people suddenly receive strange emails or messages from your name? You may have been hacked, or you may be dealing with malware. Incidentally, we previously wrote an article 'what to do if your social media is hacked'. Be sure to read that as well.
Certain tools no longer work
Some malware will stop your antivirus program from working, or prevent certain system tools from loading, making the malware more difficult to detect and remove. If you find that such programs do not run properly, it is best to look for an alternative scanner to see if you are indeed dealing with malware.
However, it is not always the case that your computer has such symptoms. Sometimes you don't notice anything at all. But if you suspect you may be dealing with malware, it's always a good idea to scan your computer with your current scanner plus a second scanner for a second opinion, in case your own scanner has been compromised by the malware.
Malware, Now What?
Okay, so you've discovered that you have malware, what can you do about it? Like the greased lightning install software to protect you from it and get rid of it. We'll help you with that in another article about the best free antivirus tools for Windows 10.
Even if you already had antivirus software on your PC, it is wise to use a new tool. Your old software obviously failed to counter the malware. Once the virus has slipped through, your antivirus tool has nothing to contribute. You prefer to run your new program in an environment where the malware cannot load first, for example via Linux. Before choosing that option, try booting into Windows Safe Mode to see if you can resolve the virus infection there.
It may be that your system has gone into such a mess that a clean install is your only option to get things back on track. Make sure to back up your important files, if you can. Hopefully, after the tips in this article, it won't have to come to that!