Data Doctors: Signs your computer is infected
Data Doctors’ Ken Colburn explains how signs of a malware infection can be somewhat obvious or, in some cases, very difficult to detect, and not to ignore strange behavior from your computer.
Q: I’m seeing unusual activity on my computer — what are the signs of it being infected?
A: It could be malware. 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.
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 loading up automatically when you start your computer.
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 onto malicious websites and cause everything to seem sluggish.
They can also add new toolbars or add-ons that appear in your browser’s headers.
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…