Do I have virus or malware infection on my computer?
That question you'd almost immediately ask if your computer acts up. Wait, before you jump into conclusion, remember that uninfected computers may behave infected. That’s not to say your computer is safe. I’ll show you how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Alleges could make you sneeze. Sneezing doesn't automatically mean you have the flu or have caught pneumonia!
That’s how computers work too.
A slow computer may not have a virus; it might be battling with system overload. Running too many programs on your computer at the same time slows down its performance.
That said, I'm not asking you to relax. Find out what’s going on.
Malware criminals make lots of money from targeting you, so don’t assume you’re safe. In fact, one cyber criminal made over $100 million dollars targeting unprotected or loosely protected computers using his malware.
There you have a dilemma. For reasons other than malware, your computer might behave as if infected. So how do you differentiate infected from uninfected computers?
Let’s start by examining signs of a malware attack.
Signs and Symptoms of a Malware Attack
Malware is short for malicious software. Any software that reduces or truncates your computer’s performance, or puts the user at risk, is malware. Examples of malware include trojans, worms, ransomware, adware, spyware, scareware, viruses, and other malicious programs. So if you're fretting and wondering "do I have virus infection on my computer?" use the checklist below to begin investigating.
However, like viral conditions in humans, computer malware are moving targets that evolve over generations. Unlike humans, ‘generation’ for computers could be months, weeks, even days. If you’re curious to know the difference between different malware types, you may find them explained here. For now, let’s examine possible malware symptoms to watch out for:
1. Abnormal Error Messages
Messages from nowhere. Gibberish messages. Anti-virus warning messages you’ve never seen before. Unauthorized programs that start running automatically. These messages and programs may be the trick to making you click.
Programs that run automatically without permission and other gibberish messages could be malware trying to get into your computer. They could also be malware that’s already on your computer trying to take over and ruin it.
2. Extra files on startup
You notice extra programs that launch when you start your computer. Programs you hadn’t installed, and when you click on them they make copies of your files on their own, automatically. These files shrink your disk space and wouldn’t delete.
3. Friends replying to Email/Social Media Messages you didn't Send
Are your friends as worried as this little girl? Are they getting messages that you didn't send?
Then your login details might have been stolen using malware. Your cyber assailant would operate your account remotely or use an application hosted elsewhere to send out messages using your identity.
A quick check at your sent messages tells you whether the attacker used your account directly or through an application. Messages in your Sent records without your involvement answers your question 'do I have virus infection on my computer?' is positive -- yes, you do. However, you can’t control messages sent from external applications. Change your password.
4. Automatically Deactivated Anti-virus and Malware Protection
Certain malware target computer security systems. The goal is to leave you defenseless. In the event that you reboot your computer, turn off and then turn on your security solutions, and all, but your computer’s security solutions are still off -- you might be under attack.
You asked ‘do I have virus infection on my computer?’ right?
Oh yes! You do. And you must act fast.
Traditional antivirus solutions are not capable of blocking advanced malware -- like ransomware and financial malware. I’d said earlier that malware evolves and mutate. Malware developers by mutating their programs ensure that they aren’t sandboxed by antivirus solutions.
Sandboxing is a method used to separate and run untrusted and untested codes or programs; this method is used on unverified third-party software from untrusted users, potentially harmful websites and untrusted sources. Computer security sandboxing prevents malicious codes from infecting your computer.
Advanced malware creators beat sandboxing in many ways traditional anti-viruses cannot detect. For example, they would blend their malware with millions of sample files, effectively confusing your traditional antivirus software’s sandboxing methodology. The malware then goes undetected, unblocked and freely attacks your computer -- in spite of an antivirus presence.
So if your antivirus refuses to come on, or wouldn’t update after several trials, you might be under attack. If that's why you asked 'do I have virus infecting my computer?' Then it's a yes.
5. Self-induced Actions: Abnormal Behavior of Web Browser
If you noticed any changes in your homepage, browser settings, or opening of unwanted websites, and you didn’t initiate these actions then your computer is possibly compromised. Worse, if it redirects you to other websites when you try to access websites you know.
6. Running out of Hard Disk space without Good reason
If you’ve confirmed that you haven’t increased your file storage lately, and you’re still running out of space, then it’s a yes to ‘do I have virus infection on my computer?’ You’d also want to verify that some files haven’t changed names or disappeared. These malware fills up spaces in your device, and crash the storage device eventually.
7. Incessant Crashes
If you experience incessant crashes or regularly experience Blue Screen of Death, you might be harboring a malware. This one obviously warrants the question 'do I have virus or malware on this computer.'
However, incessant crashes could be caused by multiple software problems as well -- not a malware. If you have conflicting programs running on your computer it might crash just as incessantly as a malware attack. You’ll have to run a test to make sure that this is not the case.
If using your computer online (or offline) comes with a deluge of advertisements, banners, and what have you, then your computer might be at risk. And if you asked ‘do I have virus or malware infection?’ Oh yes, you do.
The unpleasant thing about pop-ups is that they come with other active malware programs running in the background. A destructive end result is all you’ll see -- no warning.
To avoid doing further damage, don’t click on these pop-ups, never reply unsolicited emails or messages, and only download free applications that you trust.
9. Slow Computer Performance
If your computer takes an eternity to boot up then you are in trouble. OK, let’s not jump the gun -- you’re likely in a malware trouble.
Maybe you asked the question 'do I have virus on this computer?' because you noticed this sluggishness while not using a resource-heavy software, I'd advise that you verify other possible causes before concluding it’s a malware. Check for these possible causes:
- Lack of RAM memory
- Lack of hard disk space
- System fragmentation
- Hardware issues
For more examination, use this troubleshooting guide.
A perfect scenario would be that you are working on your computer, and then suddenly out of the blues it stops. Cursor won’t move. keyboard won’t work. Everything goes static. Just before we call this a malware (of which it might be one), let’s weigh other possibilities. A desperate need for cleanup could cause this freeze.
Other reasons for this freeze could be that the computer is overheating, or having driver errors, or software errors, even your mouse could cause the freeze. If you already know it’s not these options and you’re worried, asking do I have virus infection on my PC? Then your worry is true.
11. Inaccessible Disks or Disk Drives
A list would simplify this point. If it’s any item on this list making you wonder “do I have virus infection on my PC?” then, um, your worry might be legit.
- The USB you just plugged to your PC isn’t accessible
- On My Computer, it's one drive instead of more that you’d normally see.
- You cannot access all or a select number of your computer’s drives
- Your CD-ROM is inaccessible
Well, my dear friend, your worry might be true -- this computer might have been compromised.
12. Printers and Hardware Issues
If your printer, CD drive, webcam, or any hardware connected to your computer starts working on its own, then you should consider running a scan. Your printer prints document incorrectly, especially when you send documents through your home network. In this case, your network might have been hacked too -- you want to be sure it’s not.
How to check for Malware Infection?
Malware developers design self-updating ecosystems into their botnets and malware to beat malware detectors. In effect, most malware detectors fail. In spite of malware search engines successfully finding millions of malware, they still miss malware mutants that evolved to evade discovery.
So you've found one or more of the 12 symptoms above. How do you verify if your computer is under attack? You can do that in two easy steps:
- Primary Antivirus Scan
- Second Opinion Antimalware Scan
Primary Antivirus Scan
1. Backup your computer files
If you are not in the habit of backing up your files, start here. Backup your files regularly, it’s the safest way to have clean files to fall back to in the event of a virulent malware attack. On the other hand, before restoring any backed up files, make sure you scan them with an anti-malware.
2. Turn off internet connection
Malware especially ransomware communicates with command and control server to get their further instructions. They take help of your internet connection. With your internet connection off, your computer is safe from any harmful remote communications.
3. Scan your computer for viruses
Using your traditional antivirus, scan your computer for viruses. If you don’t already have one, download and use a free antivirus solution that offers you full access to all functionalities for a few days or weeks.
During installation, certain antivirus solutions may critically scan key components of your computer like its registry and startup services. Antiviruses recommend solutions to problems found in your computer, suggesting improvements and giving you steps to take -- follow these steps.
If your computer is compromised beyond the capabilities of an antivirus, the antivirus may not run or update until you’ve successfully removed the malware. In that event, you need a deep scan.
Second opinion Anti-Malware scan
Use an anti-malware scanner to get a second opinion on your computer's behavior. MalwareFox has a free solution you can use for this purpose.
Download the executable file and then follow the instructions there.
Use the short video guide on that download page if you need help. You prefer to read? Use the guide here instead.
Now that you know the answer to your question 'do I have virus or malware infection on my PC?' What's next?
Remove the malware.
How to Remove a Malware
Malware always evolves, a traditional antivirus wouldn't catch them all. What you need is an anti-malware solution that's a step (even a generation) AHEAD of malware creators. Your malware solution should,
- Detect and remove malware
- Repair files damaged by Rootkits
- Handle Browser Cleanup
- Protect you from Ransomware
- Prevent infection in real time
- Protect you from zero-day attack
- Provide you support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
If you've already downloaded and installed your MalwareFox anti-malware solution, that's the solution. The 34-second video below provides you a step-by-step guide to installing and using your MalwareFox anti-malware protection.