12 Warning Signs That Help Identify Malware Infection
Gone are the days when installing an antivirus would give you ample protection against viruses and malware. Cybercriminals today have turned so sophisticated that they now come up with all kinds of advanced viruses and malware, many of which would bypass conventional security software. You might need advanced and even specialized security software to combat such malware.
Moreover, the sophisticated malware of today don’t cause great, visible changes to happen in the impacted systems or networks. The changes could be minute and not so easy to detect. Still, there are some changes or warning signs that would let you know that your system could be malware-infected. Here’s a list of such warning signs that could prove helpful:
When there is a notable decrease in system speed…
When there is a notable decrease in computer speed, when your system takes longer to boot up or when browsing the internet or transferring files happens very slowly, you can start looking for malware presence in your system. The decrease in speed could be due to malware infection.
When applications take time to start or show errors…
If any application in your system takes longer than usual to start or when it reports an error, you should start checking for malware presence. It could be that your system is infected, but applications slowing down or showing errors could be because of other reasons as well.
When your system crashes very often…
When your system crashes very often and takes you to the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), it could be indicative of a malware infection. Do an immediate check for malware infection.
When there are popups about unwanted websites coming up…
It could be a malware infection when there are popups about unwanted websites coming up and vexing you. Keep an eye for such popups and do a scan for malware when you see such popups.
When there is an increase in internet traffic
A very visible increase in internet traffic could be because of a malware infection. When there is a virus or any malware in your system, it could be using your bandwidth to download data and files into your system, thereby turning it into a part of a botnet, which could be used to attack further systems or networks. That causes an increase in internet traffic. So you need to be alert and keep monitoring traffic data using an effective data monitoring program.
When your antivirus or firewall gets disabled often…
When a malware infects your system and disables your security system, your antivirus or firewall could get disabled often. Check for malware in case this happens.
When you find suspicious messages on social networks…
When you receive messages on social networks with suspicious looking links (links to erotic videos or interesting news), it could be because of some malware infection that had impacted the friend from whom the messages have come. Be wary of such messages and don’t click on the links. Similarly, when there are suspicious posts or messages from your side on social networks, it could be indicative of malware infection on your system.
When you are not able to access Control Panel…
If you aren’t able to access your Control Panel, you must immediately run a full system scan and check for malware presence. Malware infections usually cause this, as malware might try restricting users from accessing Control Panel.
When you get alerts from ‘fake’ security programs…
When you get popups alerting from ‘fake’ security programs, especially one you haven’t installed, it’s advisable to ignore the alert and do a check for malware presence.
When you find shortcut files in your system or pen drive
When there are shortcut files in your computer or your pen drive, there is a probability that these could be shortcuts to viruses or malware that have bypassed antivirus or antimalware programs.
When there are traffic redirections to different browsers or websites
When you are frequently redirected, through Google searches, to different browsers or websites which may ask you to update some plugin (like Flash), it could be because of a malware infection on your system.
When unusual messages are sent or received…
When unusual warning messages are seen on your system or when any of your contacts get unusual messages from you (via email, social networking sites etc), there are chances that you are infected. Do a thorough check for malware presence or spyware infection.
Julia Sowells824 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.