Think your computer has a virus or malware? Lets start by answering the question – what is malware? The ‘mal’ in ‘malware’ means ‘malicious’ – but it’s even worse than that. By malicious, we’re talking about computer programs like viruses, spyware, trojans, worms and everything else that infiltrates our systems without our consent and causes all sorts of problems.
Here at Sydney IT Assist, malware is one of the most common computer problems we see each and every day. And believe us, malware might not just be a nuisance like a spam-sending trojan, or a pain like a slow-working or temporarily inoperable computer. Malware and computer viruses can damage hardware, delete or transfer your precious data, and even bring down an entire corporate network.
In short, malware is not only ‘malicious’, it can even be catastrophic.
If you’re reading this article on your computer, likely you’re already thinking ‘Does my computer have a virus?’ If so, you’ll need to look out for those typical computer malware and virus symptoms. Here’s 4 ways to tell if your computer has malware.
1. It’s running slow
A slow computer is often a matter of opinion, but if yours has suddenly or dramatically slowed down, that’s a very common sign of malware. Keep in mind there are a number of reasons for a slow computer, so although you don’t need to panic you should investigate it further.
Sometimes, you will notice that even if you’re not doing anything that is particularly resource-heavy, malware will cause your hard drive to work hard, your RAM to fill up and your internet connection to clog up like crazy.
2. Pop-ups are popping up everywhere
While a pop-up – normally an advert that requires closing – probably just means you’ve visited a legitimate (albeit annoying) website, lots and lots of them are a bad sign.
It’s also important to realise that pop-ups caused by ‘adware’ are not just annoying, the cause can be incredibly hard to remove from the system and the potential damage can be much worse than just a bad mood.
3. Regular system crashes
We’ve all seen that occasional but dreaded ‘blue screen of death’, and we’ve all had a computer simply not behave itself. And it doesn’t necessary mean malware is the cause.
But if it’s happening a lot, especially in conjunction with other weird problems like program crashes, it might not be a simple software or hardware problem – it could be malware. Often, the designer of the malware doesn’t necessary want to display ads or steal your information, they just want to ruin your day, corrupt your files and generally wreck your computer.
4. Strange internet behaviour
We’ve covered pop-up ads, but that’s not all malware will do to affect your internet browsing.
One clear warning sign is that when you try to use your regular search engine, let’s say Google, you’ll actually be taken somewhere else. Or perhaps there are unfamiliar new toolbars on your browser, your home page is suddenly different, or you receive an odd message from a Facebook friend asking you to click an unfamiliar link.
My computer has malware! Now what?
You can try to remove the malware yourself using antivirus software programs, if your computer operating system is still accessible. Just run a full scan and follow instructions if malware is found. It’s a good idea to restart your computer and run another scan with a different tool see if any additional malware is found.
Once your computer is clean of malware you don’t want it coming back! Update your operating system, browser and software applications, then reset all passwords.
If your computer is on a company network or connected to a server then contact your business IT support specialist as soon as possible to stop the malware spreading across the network.
Luckily, while the average malware perpetrator is pretty smart, some experts are even smarter – like the guys at Sydney IT Assist. We have all the latest and greatest tools, techniques, knowledge and advice to remove malware quickly, and then keep it from coming back.
So, no symptoms means no malware – right?
Well, not exactly. Some malware inhabit your computer with the intention of using it for nefarious purposes ongoing. If you knew about this, you would likely call in our guys to fix it. There are a few ways to detect malware that is trying to hide, like booting from a USB drive, scanning for listening ports or looking for processes that we know don’t belong in your operating system. We can even put devices in your business network that look for malware traffic both incoming and outgoing.
So if your trusty computer is all of a sudden behaving more like a hospital patient, get in touch today and let Sydney IT assist nurse it back to health.