Sometimes tech just functions poorly — but sometimes it functions poorly because it has been compromised by malicious programs or hackers. Bringing your computer back to normal after an attack isn’t easy, and you shouldn’t have to struggle to right malware wrongs if you don’t have to. Thus, before you begin a crusade to rid your machine of corruption, you should be absolutely certain that something is seriously wrong with your device. This guide should help you confirm that your computer is no longer safe and identify what has gone wrong, so you can more efficiently clean and secure your computer against threats.
Signs of Infection
Unfortunately, some of the signs of infection are also signs that your machine is simply getting old. For example, if your computer is running slow, there might be malware hogging all your processing power — or your hard drive might be failing. Additionally, if programs are crashing often, a malicious program might be causing malfunctions — or your video card might not support the advanced graphics and audio you are trying to run.
However, you can watch for a few other good indications that a digital creepy-crawly has found its way onto your device. Here are some good signs that there’s something sinister lurking on your computer:
- Pop-ups. Thanks to the popularity of ad-busting browser apps, pop-ups aren’t all that common on the web, but they remain popular symptoms of a strain of malware called adware.
- Involuntary changes. If you notice changes to your presets — to include your desktop background, your bookmarks, your file organization and more — you might have malware, but you should check with anyone else who has access to your computer before you act.
- Independent messages. Malware often spreads its infection through compromised messages to your saved contacts. Emails, social media messages and other communications with odd links you didn’t send are strong indications of a compromised device.
- Unfamiliar programs. Only executable files can make changes to your computer, so malware often hides itself in strange programs. You should pay attention to what you download and install, so you can identify unfamiliar apps from malware.
Unreachable features. Newer versions of malware will lock you out of administrator abilities and locations. If you can no longer reach certain files or functions, you have a virus.
Once you have a strong inkling that your device is compromised, you should act quickly to verify your suspicions and better understand what is plaguing your device. To do this, you should procure a max security antivirus program equipped with full computer scanning and quarantining capabilities. A computer scan surveys every file and folder on your device and compares its code with millions of known virus signatures in the hopes of recognizing corrupt data. Then, the quarantine function prevents the malware from affecting other parts of your computer before you or the software can delete the virus completely.
Not only will security software like this recognize existing malware and work to eradicate it from your machine, but it will do more to protect you against infection in the future. Plus, more advanced antivirus programs are moving away from signature-based detection and using AI to predict potential malware before they perform malicious acts, so you could avoid all harmful programs in the future with the right cybersecurity program.
Though simply downloading and installing a trustworthy antivirus program should be enough to eliminate most malware from your computer, there are more pernicious strains that take more effort to remove. For example, ransomware often hides or encrypts your files, and removing the program doesn’t necessarily return your precious data. In this case, you might need to take additional action, like downloading a decryption tool or manually finding and renaming your files.
After you are nearly back to normal, you should seriously consider adding more to your computer’s security. An antivirus program is an excellent first step, but you might also enable or enhance your firewall, add or change passwords on your network and devices, operate under a non-administrative account and update all programs on your machine. These seemingly simple acts make it much more difficult for hackers to attack your computer. The safer you are, the less likely malware can find its way to you, so the best way to rectify your machine is to focus on security whenever you log on.