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7 Warning Signs Your Computer Has a Virus

published 12/28/2020

Navigating the internet is sometimes a minefield. You have to watch exactly where you step, otherwise you're going to do some serious damage - to your computer, at least.

COVID has created a new paradigm in working from home on your computer. Most employees that aren't face-to-face have migrated their workflow to inside their houses, which has created a tremendous influx of internet traffic.

Online predators see this as an opportunity: more people online, more prey for their cyber attacks. There has been a subsequent increase of 600% in cybercrime since the beginning of the pandemic.

Knowing when you're under attack is the first step to protecting your privacy and finances. These are the 7 warning signs your computer has a virus.

1. Have You Noticed a Slow-Down?

When your computer is infected, there's a lot of data packet exchange between your computer and the server that injected the virus. A constant upstream of information can cause some serious degradation in performance.

Some viruses have this effect intentionally. Slowing your computer to a crawl can leave you open to further attacks in the future. It's hard to fight something when you're unable to move.

If you've noticed a performance hit to your computer, you should check the Task Manager. Navigate to the "Performance" tab and look at the graphs. You might not be able to understand all of it but if there's a lot of activity in either graph, it's a sign of intrusion.

2. Losing Control

When attackers target a computer, they're often after data and control of your computer.

This can be a very scary situation to find yourself in, but don't let the criminals alarm you. When a hacker takes control of your computer, you'll notice you're no longer able to operate it under your influence. This can mean your mouse is no longer operable or programs are exiting instantaneously.

The other party is trying to prevent you from removing the virus. It could also mean they're searching your computer for information.

Simply disconnect the internet if this is the case. This is how they're interacting.

3. Pop-Ups Are Signs Your Computer Has a Virus

The dreaded pop-up purgatory. Everyone's seen it depicted in movies, and it's probably happened a few times before.

Operating systems don't have built-in pop-ups. When you start receiving these ads on your desktop, it's almost certainly a virus.

Don't let this frighten you too much. Pop-up viruses aren't all that difficult to manage.

You should disconnect your internet, preventing further intrusions. Adware is usually installed onto a browser, like Chrome or Internet Explorer, as a plugin or extension. Find the culprit in your browser's settings.

It's also possible they've installed a program silently after you added an extension. Look for any suspicious names in your "Installed Programs" list.

4. Listen for the Signs

A lot of times, cybercriminals are targeting your data. They are either seeking information for ransomware or financial information.

Ransomware is when criminals hold your data captive and only release it back to you for financial gain. They may also release this sensitive information if a ransom is not met.

When the hackers are combing through your data, your hard drive will constantly be running. This can be physically heard - hard drives will activate and spin.

If you have a newer model computer, you likely have an SSD (solid-state drive), which doesn't spin. But you will notice a slow-down in opening programs; again, check your Task Manager to see if there's an abnormal use of your SSD.

5. Are You Receiving Suspicious Emails?

When malicious people gain access to your computer, it's usually for financial gain.

They'll tread through all of your information looking for anything that could potentially yield them profit. This also means that they'll be going through digital servers and accounts that you own, perhaps like an online banking service or some other product.

They might not know your password, but they likely know information about you and the email you're using. They'll try to gain access through resetting your account passwords or other nefarious means. This will trigger responses from whatever company they're trying to infiltrate asking you if you've reset your password.

They may also send emails regarding new activity elsewhere, on some new computer. This computer isn't yours.

This is a huge red flag that you're under attack.

6. Where'd That File Go?

Are you missing files that were seemingly where you left them?

No, you're not losing them. And they're certainly not disappearing by themselves.

When a cybercriminal has gained access to your computer, they'll often delete files from it. This can be used as a tactic to scare you, to gain access to somewhere, or to confuse the user.

If you're missing files that you know for sure shouldn't be deleted, it's a sign you've been infiltrated.

7. Running Out of Space

When attackers target a person, they'll inject software onto their computer. This is a means of an access point for the criminal.

This software will often take up a large amount of storage on your hard drive. It can also inject dangerously-fast replicating files onto your system that will chew through your storage. This is done to lock up the user's access; when a storage unit, like a hard drive, is filled to the brim, it'll become unresponsive.

Constantly check how much disk space you have left on your computer. If it dwindles quickly, there's likely a reason for it - a virus.

Sweep It Clean!

The internet is a beautiful place to explore and learn, but lurking behind any available corner is a threat. Where there's prey, there are predators.

Knowing the signs your computer has a virus can be your best protection against financial loss and information leaks.

Noticing that your computer has bogged down or you've lost control of its operation is an indicator. If you've received suspicious account activity emails, it's a bad sign. Pop-ups aren't put into an OS; if you're receiving them, you've got a virus.

If you've been targeted by a virus, feel free to contact us for guided assistance and help in its removal.