Warning signs that your computer has malware

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 7/1/19

Viruses, malware and adware can wreak havoc.

Even if they don’t destroy your files and crash your computer, they can be quite dangerous and annoying.

Though you might have an idea when something is wrong with your computer, here I remind you of the common signs:

Real or fake alerts: Legit antivirus programs will notify you if a virus or malware is detected and sometimes ask if you want to remove or quarantine it. But they shouldn’t ever tell you to call someone and no one from a legit company will ever call you unsolicited about viruses or computer issues. If so, they’re likely fake alerts.

Unless you’re certain the alerts are coming from a legitimate source (like the antivirus you installed), I’d not take any actions the alert recommends. There are many fake antivirus and cleaner programs out there that alert you of totally made-up issues, which they typically say they can fix if you call them or purchase their software. Instead, I recommend calling a local computer repair company for their advice.

Sudden slowness: If your computer suddenly slows down, it could be due to viruses and other infections, or just junk that has been recently installed. Computer pros can run virus scans, inspect other areas of the computer, and evaluate if the slowness is coming from a virus or some other issue.

Different homepage: If the webpage that comes up when you open your web browser (for instance, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome) automatically changes, you may have a virus, adware, or other infection hijacking the browser. Even though some of these homepages seem useful, like offering search tools, I suggest sticking with the major search engines, like Google.com, Yahoo.com, Bing.com and MSN.com.

More ads and popups: Seeing more advertisements, either in webpages or pop-ups, could mean you have adware or malware. These can also lead to further problems, since they can trick you or others into clicking on them and getting more problems. A computer can usually perform a cleanup to get rid of illegitimate ads and suggest an ad blocker to block further ads.

Freezing and crashing: If your computer starts freezing and crashing often, a virus or malware could be to blame. A computer pro can run scans and tests to see if the instability is the cause of a virus or something else.

Hacked accounts or fraud: It is possible for viruses, spyware, and other malware to capture your login credentials and banking info. So if any of your online accounts becomes hacked or you notice fraud on your credit or bank accounts, I suggest having a computer pro check for infections and help change your passwords. Although there are many other ways they could have gotten access, it’s good to double-check.

Remember, it’s always best to deal with these and any other computer issues as soon as possible.

Ignoring them could lead to much more serious issues later. Though there are many programs out there to help you remove viruses and fix issues, there’s no substitute for a trained computer professional.

Even if all seems well with your computer, I highly suggest a tech perform a general checkup and cleanup each year.

There are some things they can detect and fix before they become a real problem. One example is a failing hard drive; you may not know it’s starting to fail while a technician can check the reliability and performance with a tool and recommend replacement before you loose your data.

To help combat viruses, malware and other junk, makesure you have a good antivirus and extra malware protection. Also, be very careful what you click on and download.

Stay on webpages you know are safe.

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