With the abundance of effective and affordable (or even free) antivirus software on the market today (we especially like Microsoft Security Essentials), it’s becoming less and less likely that your computer will become infected with an actual virus. But that doesn’t mean your computer is 100% safe either.
Antivirus protects your computer from viruses. But there is another flavor of computer-compromising software you may have heard of: Malware.
Malware is essentially a piece of malicious software or code that runs on your computer – often times, without you realizing you’re infected. Malware’s goal can be to steal your identity, your financial information, or even to add your computer to a BotNet.
Here are the top 9 ways to know your computer is infected with malware. This doesn’t mean you’ll see all of these symptoms. But if you’re seeing any of these symptoms, there’s a good chance your computer may be infected with malware.
1. Browser Redirects
When you click on a link or perform a search, you end up at some other, unintended website.
2. New Home Page
Malware will often change your home page to something you’ve never heard of without asking for your permission.
3. New Programs You Didn’t Install
Programs you don’t recognize appear on your desktop, in your start menu, or in the Control Panel’s “Add/Remove Programs” (Windows XP) or “Programs and Features” (Windows Vista, Windows 7, and 8).
4. Browser Toolbars and Addons
Internet Explorer will suddenly display a new toolbar at the top of the browser, or will launch with other strange addons. Google Chrome and Firefox will run with new extensions or plugins that sometimes add strange icons to the browser toolbar area.
5. Slow PC or Slow Internet
You internet or PC in general will suddenly become unbearably slow.
6. Strange Pop-Ups
An unusual frequency of pop-ups will appear on your desktop or while surfing the web.
7. Windows Updates Fail
You won’t be able to run Windows Updates or navigate to windowsupdate.microsoft.com
8. Certain Websites Won’t Display
Websites you try to visit will frequently not display, only partially load, or show a 404 error.
9. Windows Won’t Start
This can be caused by a number of things, but there are times when malware can keep Windows from booting or will cause your computer to regularly shut down or freeze up.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, your best bet is to have your PC cleaned by an IT professional. Some of the malware-cleaning programs on the market just aren’t effective and can even damage your PC’s registry, which can lead to you having to buy a new computer.
If you think your PC might be infected with malware, call us today at 610.590.5006, or contact us via email.