Malware is one of the most dangerous types of computer viruses. Its main purpose is to trick you into freely giving your information to cyber-criminals. While some only collect email in order to spam your inbox, others are after more personal information such as your credit card information. One of the main purposes behind malware is identity theft.
The problem with malware is it can sneak on your system with other software without your knowledge. It can also pose as legitimate looking software, resulting in users installing it without thinking it’s dangerous. No matter how it gets on your computer, you can recognize the symptoms if you look closely. Even the best anti-virus can’t catch all malware, meaning you need to stay on your guard and look for these six common malware symptoms.
Slow System Performance
Malware is designed to “listen” to your system and gather information based on what you type. This includes form data, passwords, credit card information and much more. The extra software that runs in the background to gather this data often causes your system to slow down. You may notice programs opening slower than usual, delayed boot times and increased loading times on web pages.
Altered Home Page
If you notice your browser’s home page has been changed, scan your system for malware immediately. Malware sometimes redirects you to a different page for searching and opening pages. When you use this new home page, you open your system to the virus and anything you enter is likely being sent to hackers. Another sure sign your computer is in trouble is if your home page immediately changes to something different after you reset it.
Pop-ups are annoying, but they’re even worse with malware. You may notice random pop-ups even when your browser isn’t open. Usually, they deal with legitimate looking software, warnings that your computer is infected and different products for you to buy. If you notice pop-ups that have nothing to do with the site you’re visiting or they occur when your browser is closed, you could have a malware infection.
Internet Connectivity Issues
Malware sometimes reconfigures your Internet settings to re-route your traffic through an unsecured proxy. By doing this, any data you enter on secured sites is visible to thieves. Sometimes this backfires and results in Internet connectivity issues such as not being able to connect, dropped connections and slower page loading times. If you notice any of these issues, check your network and Internet settings immediately to check for changes.
New Software Installed
Anytime you install a new program, check your list of installed software. Malware sometimes attaches to other programs, including legitimate software. It installs in the background as you install the other software. While it doesn’t always show itself in your program list, some types do. If you do see something that doesn’t belong, uninstall it. If it is reinstalled after restarting your computer, you definitely have malware.
System Tray Invasion
Most people never pay any attention to the icons in the system tray. Malware creators know this. Since malware is actually a type of software that runs in the background, it sometimes creates an icon in the system tray when it’s running. If you notice any of the other symptoms, check your system tray to see if anything odd has appeared.
Since malware is extremely sneaky, your anti-virus may not catch it, especially if it installs as legitimate software. It isn’t until you run a full system scan that your anti-virus catches any trace of it. By this time, it may be too late as malware can and does disable anti-virus software. If you do suspect you have malware, download and install malware software on your system and run a full scan immediately. Software such as Malware Bytes is free and compliments your anti-virus for added protection.