Have you ever wondered if your computer was infected? This is an age old question kind of like “why did the chicken cross the road” or “did my sock get eaten by the drier or did I accidentally buy a 5 count pack of socks”, which many of us have asked from time to time.

Malware (short for malicious software) is any program or file that is harmful to a computer user. Thus, malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware. Over the last few years, there has been a huge uptick in total malware distributed around the globe. As of Q2 in 2015, it has been estimated that 440 million pieces of malware were in general circulation.

total-malware-evolution

Source: McAfee Lab Threat Report, August 2015

It is important to know the symptoms of an infected computer system, so that corrective action can be taken. Malware can sit on a system for years undetected if proper security programs are not utilized. Hackers can use malware to damage your system and/or steal your personal information.

Below you will find eight common symptoms that can be attributed to an infected system:

  1. You have random windows popping up on your screen
  2. Your device randomly shuts down or boots up by itself
  3. Screens or menus change on their own in programs such as a web browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Edge), email application, or other pieces of software
  4. You notice unusually high network traffic (when you aren’t streaming all 201 episodes of “The Office” at one time… in 4K)
  5. Programs or the your whole system starts to load more slowly. Note: Take into consideration if you are running a really intensive piece of software such as Adobe Photoshop, which could be causing the slow down
  6. Files either appear or disappear by themselves
  7. You notice a large amount of hard drive activity
  8. The system starts to give you unexpected error messages during boot

This list is by no means comprehensive. If any these symptoms are occurring on your computer, it does not definitively indicate that your system is infected, but is a good gauge to then have a professional investigate further. Keeping your computer and your personal information secure is very important. With the massive amount of malware being spread to computers around the globe it is vital to be aware of the warning signs.

 

 

Image Source: MalwareBytes

Posted by Shawn Thornton

My name is Shawn and my professional background is in Project Management and Information Technology. I received my Bachelor of Science in Management and Marketing from the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore. I am currently attending school to prepare me for a Master’s program in Cyber Security. I enjoy anything tech.

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