8 Signs of a malware infection

A photo of a man at a white desk working on his laptop.

Malware isn’t just irritating popups or a slow computer. It can introduce dangerous files to your network, bringing productivity to a sudden halt.

Approximately 34% of businesses take a week or longer to regain access to their data and systems after a malware attack.

Due to the risk of data damage, lost productivity, and lost profits, users must report possible malware infections as quickly as possible. Therefore, it’s essential to know the signs of malware infection to report possible infections, request scans, and remove the malware before significant damage occurs.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build effective IT strategies and security practices.

By reading this article, you will learn eight signs of possible malware infection to help you better protect your network and data.

What is malware?

Malware is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of malicious code. It can include:

  • Viruses
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Trojans
  • Adware
  • Key loggers
  • And more

The longer malware sits on your system unchecked, the more damage it can do. Most forms of malware have a directive built in to spread to as many systems as possible.

If not caught and removed right away, the malware on one computer could infect ten more on the same network in no time.

Early detection is key so you can disconnect an infected device from your network and have it properly cleaned by a professional.

Keep an eye out for these key warning signs of malware infection so you can jump into action and reduce your risk.

8 Signs of a malware infection

1. Strange popups on your desktop

Some forms of malware can take on the disguise of being an antivirus app or warranty notice that pops up on your screen. Hackers try to mimic things that users may have seen from a legitimate program, so they’ll be more apt to click without thinking.

If you begin to see a strange “renew your antivirus” subscription alert or a warranty renewal that doesn’t quite make sense, these could be signs that your PC has been infected with adware or another type of malware.

2. New sluggish behavior

Computers can become sluggish for many reasons, including having too many browser tabs open at once or running a memory-intensive program. However, users typically know their computers and what generally slows them down.

A sign of malware infection includes new sluggish behavior that is out of the ordinary.

One example would be if you don’t have any programs open except a simple app, but your computer freezes.

When malware runs in the background, it can often eat up system resources and cause your system to get sluggish.

3. Applications start crashing

Suppose you suddenly experience apps crashing, requiring you to restart the app or reboot your system. This is another telltale sign that a virus, trojan, or other malicious code has been introduced in that case.

Applications should not just crash out of the blue. There is always a reason. Either the software is faulty, there’s been an issue with an update, or something else may be messing with that application’s files.

4. Your browser home page is redirected

If you open your browser and land on a homepage that is not the one you usually see, have your PC scanned for malware right away. Redirecting a home page is a common ploy of certain types of malware.

The malware will infect your system and change the system setting for your default browser home page. This may lead you to a site filled with popup ads or another phishing site.

Changing your homepage back in your settings won’t fix the situation. If you try to restore it without removing the malware, it will continue to redirect and cause issues. The solution is to have the malware removed as quickly as possible.

5. Sudden reboots

Another annoying trait of certain types of malicious code is to make your system reboot without warning.

This can cause you to lose the work you’ve completed, and it makes it difficult to get anything done.

Sudden reboots may occur when malware changes core system files behind the scenes. With files corrupted, your system becomes unstable and can often reboot unexpectedly.

6. You’re missing hard drive space

If you find that a good deal of your hard drive space is suddenly gone, it could be a malware infection taking up your space.

Some types of malware may make copies of files or introduce new files into your system.

They will cleverly hide, so don’t expect to see the word “malware” on a file search. Instead, the dangerous activities will usually be masked by a generic-sounding name that you mistake for a typical system file.

7. You find corrupted files

If you open a file and find it corrupted, it could be a red flag that ransomware or malware has infected your system.

While files can occasionally become corrupt for other reasons (like a computer rebooting in the middle of a file save), this issue deserves a thorough malware scan.

8. Unusual computer sounds

Most of us are familiar with those “thinking sounds” when our computer is processing something memory intensive. You hear whirring that will go away once you finish that activity.

If you begin hearing this processing sound when you’re not doing anything particularly intense on your computer, it could be a sign that malware is running in the background and should be checked out.

Next steps for protecting your system from malware

Malware can cause a wide range of damage, from slow computers to a network shutdown. Therefore, it’s important to look for signs of potential infections.

Your computer should have a malware scan if you notice the following symptoms:

  1. Strange popups on your desktop
  2. New sluggish behavior
  3. Applications start crashing
  4. Your browser home page is redirected
  5. Sudden reboots
  6. You’re missing hard drive space
  7. You find corrupted files
  8. Unusual computer sounds

Free online malware and virus scans aren’t very reliable. So instead, talk to your IT provider, IT security team, or internal IT team to professionally scan and remove the malware.

You will need the malware scanned and eradicated. A professional can best perform this task and guarantee the infection is cleared.

In addition, talk to your IT provider or internal IT team about employee security training, risk assessments, and other cybersecurity best practices to prevent malware from taking root.

WEBIT Services has established cybersecurity practices rooted in frameworks for hundreds of clients. In addition, it is passionate about education and effective cybersecurity.

If you are looking for a new provider or have questions about cybersecurity, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.

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