Is your computer infected? Here’s how to tell

Sometimes it is quite apparent when your computer is infected with viruses, adware or other malware — as you might know all too well. However, other times infections can go unnoticed or ignored for some time, causing more problems.

Thus, here I share some symptoms of malware infections, which you should have investigated by a computer professional like myself sooner than later:

Aggressive or excessive warnings: If you’re getting excessive warnings about viruses or computer issues, it might be bogus and actually a virus or other malware itself. Phony antivirus and PC cleaning programs out there can find their way onto your computer and bombard you with excessive alerts about issues that do not really exist. Often times these programs say they can fix the so-called issues once you purchase the program — which you should not do! Many times these programs are so aggressive they prevent you from using the computer until properly removed.

Homepage and search redirections: Malware often changes your web browser settings. This includes the webpage that comes up when you open the web browser — called the homepage — and the search engine used when you type in a search. So if you’re seeing homepages or search pages you’re not familiar with, your computer may be infected.

Pop-up advertisements: Some websites use pop-up advertisements that, however annoying, I would consider legitimate. However, if you’re getting excessive pop-ups no matter which website you’re on, then they’re likely not legitimate, and your computer is probably infected.

Loss of performance: Infections can slow your computer down considerably. Although there are other reasons why your computer might lose its performance, malware is one, especially if you see other symptoms of infection. Many times when infections are found and properly removed, you’ll see a noticeable performance boost.

Law enforcement alerts: There are viruses out there that will imitate the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, trying to scare you into paying a fee. Usually they display a message saying you did something illegal and that you must pay, while completely preventing you from using the computer until you do so. However, I bet if you’ve actually done something illegal, law enforcement would come knocking or busting down your down instead of bugging you on the computer. Thus it’s safe to say law enforcement isn’t after you, and you just have a virus. Don’t pay any fees; call a computer professional to have the virus removed.

Hijacked email or website accounts: If your friends or family ever tell you that they’re getting weird emails from you, your email account has likely been hijacked and your computer may be infected. If you ever suspect your email or any online account has been hijacked or hacked, change your passwords and call a computer professional.

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Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton, Springfield and Northern Cincinnati areas. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.

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