Your system can get infected and you might not even realise as the sympothms might be a mundane nuisance rather than any noticeable harm. There are a lot of ways malware can infect your computer and sometimes the usual methods of protecting your computer aren't effective. However it happen here are 6 typical signs your computer is infected.
1. Pop up Ads
Pop ups are a nuisance, most browsers have built in features to prevent them and there are numerous add-ons and other software to help avoid them. If you have constant pop ups, or notifications or if your browser rather than loading a home page (usually search engine like google) instead takes you to an ad. Then the pop up ads are mostly likely explained by some form of virus or trojan.
2. Changed computer settings
Changes could include new programmes booting on startup, being automatically redirected to sites in your browser. The change could even include your firewall and/or anti-virus being disabled. Which settings are changed depends on the type and purpose of the malware. If you can't change the settings back, or they keep reverting after you have changed them. It's one of the clearest signs malware is responsible.
3. Your anti-virus is unexpectantly disabled
Disabling your anti-virus would enable the malware to operate without detection and download further harmful software. The malware may prevent you from downloading updates to your anti-virus, or going online to download a new and hopefully clean version. If the situation is that serious you may have to use another computer to download the anti-virus software and put it on a DVD, CD or flash drive to install it on the infected computer.
4. Additional applications installed on the computer
This is a typical feature of trojans, which masquerade as useful software but are either themselves malware such as adware or bring with them programmes that are harmful. Some of these trojans rely on human behaviour, where a user might rush the install process and agree to install the malware. It's best to install the software direct from the developer sites as intermediares will often attach software that while not always malware are unecassary and a nuisance.
5. Computer performance suffers
If malware is present on your computer, it will often run in the background using available resources. This will be evident when using the computer as it will be slower and more likely to freeze. All the signs so far mentioned can affect the performance of your computer. The owner of the malware might also be using your computer such as for botnets which will also consumer computing resources.
6. Unexpected crashes
This is a typical side effect of malware. Sometimes its sudden due to the malware running in the background. Your anti-virus might also restart your computer to combat the malware or numerous other reasons. Not all crashes are necassarily related to malware but if experienced along with other smypthoms of malware, it's a likely explanation.
What to do about it
If you have a good up to date anti-virus a simple scan should be able to take care of the malware. It's best to start the computer in safe mode and keep the computer disconnected from the internet until you are ready to clean the computer. Run your anti-virus, if necessary install new anti-virus and fresh install the affected programmes. It's important that your anti-virus is up to date as most anti-virus software identifies malware based on a database of behaviour typical of malware. There can be a brief period between a virus being released and the anti-virus software being updated to respond to the threat.
How to stop it from happening again
A good anti-virus is a must, but it's useless without good behaviour. Don't trust pop up windows, if downloading a piece of unfamiliar software do some research first. Don't trust emails from unknown sources. It's also important to download updates for your operating system and other software. They might seem like an annoyance but they usually fix bugs and other vulnerabilities.
The majority of malware reaches your computer through the browser. There are numerous threats on the internet not just malware, that's where ZenMate comes in, it encrypts your browser traffic adding an extra layer of security to help protect you.
Has your computer even been infected by malware and how did you deal with it?