Today, we have reached the height of connectivity with billions of people using mobile devices and computers each day. Education, work, entertainment and communication have become convenient, effective and inexpensive. The result is millions of new connections being made on a daily basis across the globe.

The dependency we all have on the Internet has given rise to ill-behaved people creating chaos  by illegally accessing computers or using specially designed software to harm your co. This software is commonly known as a computer virus, and there are millions. While corporate and government computers may have technologically advanced virus guards and firewalls, most computers are at risk every time we log on or insert an external storage device to our machines.

Severe virus attacks can cause a lot of harm such as deleting files, crashing your hard-drive or even rendering your motherboard useless if ignored. As a result, knowing when you have been hacked by a computer virus is extremely important. Here are a few tell-tale signs to watch out for:

Your computer freezes or crashes while in use.

Ever had your computer suddenly shut down or freeze on you, or had the dreaded blue screen of death stare back at you? If you are lucky you might be able to restart your computer and diagnose the problem to be related to an issue of incompatibility between the hardware configuration and the software that you run. E.g. running a software that requires 8GB of RAM on a machine that has 2GB. For the unlucky ones, restarting either does not work, or it brings them back to the BSoD. Have a professional check your computer immediately.

Your computer takes a while to boot up or open programmes.

Unless it is a rare case of your RAM or hard disk capacity being insufficient to run complex games and software programmes, chances are that your machine has been infected with a computer virus. This occurs because the virus starts utilising your computer’s resources, leaving very little to run day-to-day tasks. In rare cases the virus locks up the computer making it impossible to load anything.

You experience unwanted pop-ups all over the screen.

If you have ever had those pesky windows appear all over the screen asking you to upgrade your antivirus, telling you that you have won a raffle draw, or to download some new software, you will know what we are talking about. This type of virus is known as “spyware.” Initially they may do little more than cause a nuisance. However, clicking on one of them could unleash all kinds of trouble. In future, if you see such pop-ups, close them and run an upgraded version of your antivirus software. Do not do anything the pop-ups tempt you to do, even if they promise you that beautiful women are waiting for you or that you have won the lottery.

You are missing files.

A classic symptom of a virus infection is that some of your files may go “missing” (be sure that they may have first been deleted) and new ones installed in their place. Do not open suspicious looking folders or “.exe” files.  Always keep backups of your important files and keep a track of what you have on your computer. That way, you will know at first glance if something is wrong.

Your computer starts moving on its own.

Some virus attacks cause your computer to act “funny”. Not “laugh out loud” funny, but strange. Typical signs are, every time you boot your computer strange windows keep popping up, programs or files open up even though you didn’t click on them, or a random scrolling through of your files occurs! Oh, and sudden restarts. Although these issues can occur due to a technical issue, it is best to be safe than sorry. Assume the worst, and have your computer checked.

You use an unusually high usage of data.

Be sure to check your data usage often, because there have been reported instances where, although the computer seems idle with no web browsers open, there is a high level of data being transferred. Pay close attention to see if there are any windows that have been minimised, a software update is taking place, or there is a download (film or TV show) that you have forgotten about. If you answer “no” to all, then you know what to do.

Remember, whenever your computer starts acting funny, run your antivirus software or have the device checked by a professional. Regularly updating your antivirus helps keep most viruses at bay. Also, be very weary of inserting other people’s thumb drives and storage devices to your computer.

Has your computer ever been affected by a computer virus? How did you know, and which measures did you take?

Joanna Sommer

Joanna Sommer is the Senior Editor for InformedMag and is passionate about security and tech. She has been working in the home safety and security field for 5 years. Joanna loves to travel and enjoys going to hot yoga and Barre classes. She is dedicated to creating articles that both educate and help people make an informed purchasing decision.