The likelihood of your computer getting infected with malware increases the more you use it. These infections can happen when you access your favorite websites, when you are installing new programs into your computer, and even as a result of targeted attacks from hackers.
Given the havoc that malware can wreck on your data, your computer’s performance, and the risk it poses to your privacy, it is important to detect the infection and then get rid of it as soon as possible.
A good way of guaranteeing early detection is to look out for the early signs of an infection. The following are the most common signs that your computer has malware.
How do you know if you’ve got a malware problem?
Annoying ads on your screen
Some malware programs are designed to make money for their creators. These programs do this by displaying intrusive ads on your computer screen. And in most cases, these ads are usually hard to get rid of.
While some of these ads are legitimate, in that they promote actual products, some are designed to entice you to click on them so that they can take you to websites that have malicious code.
Once you get to these sites, your computer will then be infected with more malware programs. Therefore, as soon as you start noticing popup ads on your computer screen, it is time to run a scan for malware programs.
Endless browser redirections
If you are trying to search for something in the address bar, and you get redirected to a strange search website, then you probably have malware on your computer.
This is so especially if you did not set up the site as the default search engine. In fact, if you go to your browser settings, you may realize that the malicious program has reset the default search engine without your permission.
In some cases, it might have even changed your browser homepage. Some strange extensions might even be installed without your permission.
Changing the settings back, or uninstalling the extensions, might even not work as the program may automatically undo your changes. If you notice any of this behavior, then you probably have a malware problem.
Your computer starts to slow down
A slow computer is a common sign of the presence of malware. This is because some malware is designed to specifically slow down the computer just for the sake of it.
At other times, it is usually as a result of the malware using your computer’s memory and other resources as it tries to execute its instructions. In such a case, you will notice that things will take a longer-than-usual time to load.
Frequent system freezes and crashes
Instances of your system freezing or even shutting down might also increase. This is something that may happen in cases where the malicious program is designed specifically to cause crashing or freezing.
It can also happen simply because your system is competing for resources with the malicious program, something that will definitely lead to a drop in performance.
Loss of information
If you start to notice that some files are missing from your computer, you should check for malware.
This is because some malware programs are designed to compromise your data safety by first stealing and then deleting files. They can even delete data files of some programs on your computer, and this might cause the programs to start malfunctioning.
There are times when hackers use malware to ask for a ransom.
In such cases, the hacker will lock your files or make them inaccessible by encrypting them, and then ask for you to pay him or her in order to restore your files.
These demands are sometimes real, in that they have actually taken control of your computer and made everything inaccessible.
At other times, they are simply fake messages meant to cause you to panic and trick you into giving them your money or your details. Whichever the case, receiving such messages is a clear sign of malware.
How to Get Rid of It
Steps that you can take on your own to fix the problem
The first step is to get rid of malware is to install antivirus software on your computer. While it’s hard to say which one anti-malware is the best, any antivirus program that has decent reviews should be enough to get rid of most malware.
And if you already have a good anti-malware program installed, make sure that it is updated. After that, simply run a complete scan. If you detect any malware in your system, use the antivirus program to either delete it or to sandbox it.
The good news is that Malware is rarely a long-term problem. Be patient, try some basic solutions, and hope for the best – malware really is a problem that can be solved in most cases.