Malicious software programs are often designed to hack data, damage users’ devices and otherwise reputation. If you are a regular user of your device and it has got a common type of malware, you’ll most likely identify when it has been hit. Here are some solid suggestions on identifying malware and protecting your computer from it.
Signs Your Computer has Malware
Here are 4 quick ways to identify malware in your computer.
1. System’s Performance
Your system might start performing slowly or poorly. It will take relatively longer time to start, shutdown and restart. It is definitely a malware if your device has suddenly slowed down right after installing a specific application.
2. Untraceable Changes
If you notice certain changes in your user accounts, some personalized setting or sometimes time or graphics settings, check if somebody in your family or social circle had used your device. If no, it is likely a virus doing its work in the background.
3. Pop ups
You’ll notice a lot of popups that would suggest you download or install specific software programs. This particularly happens on browsers and you may notice these popups hindering your web experience. Frequent strange redirects are also a sign of malware.
4. Antivirus Inactive or Disappeared
If you had an antivirus, but it suddenly stopped working or disappeared from your welcome panel, desktop or notifications bar, there are high chances your computer picked a malicious program which has probably deleted or disabled your antivirus.
Steps to Prevent and Control Malware
Here’s how you can strengthen your computer against malware attacks:
1. Know the different types of malware programs
Understanding how different malware programs work and affect your computer can come in very handy when you start seeking solutions. Common types include:
Viruses: you’ll most likely notice multiple copies of your files. Any attempts to delete such files will usually fail. Users may lose a lot of data while clearing viruses from devices.
Spyware: these programs attempt to imitate users’ passwords.
Adware: these are third-party advertisements of products you never showed interested in.
Ransomware: a cyber attacker may gain unauthorized access to your device, capture your data and lock you out of it. Depending upon the sensitivity and complexity of the data, he may threaten you about deleting and encrypting the data and will eventually demand cryptocurrency or online money transfers.
2. Install an antivirus program with an ad-blocker
Though Windows 10 comes with a built-in security app, we still suggest users subscribe to a high-rating antivirus program like Bitdefender or McAfee Security. These programs scan dummy network, malicious apps and generate regular reports about data leaks and potential breaches.
3. Diagnose battery and data consumption before installing a software program
Independent review websites usually disclose if an application is exclusively designed to introduce malware and affect the performance of a device. Read those reviews and especially check if a software program drains the battery, or consumes excessive data.
4. Do not install software programs from unknown publishers
Before you install a software program, a dialog box usually displays a software’s information like its publisher or company. Avoid installing if it is developed by an unknown or unverified publisher.
5. Manually scan your computer for viruses and malware
Make it a habit to run manual scans on your devices regularly, whether it’s your personal device, work device, a PC, cell phone or tablet. There are times these malicious files can fool defenders and don’t get a highlight in automatic scans. Review the reports and inquire why certain files, software programs, browsers are consuming extra storage space.
6. Use a VPN while browsing, torrenting, online gaming
A VPN can make you almost anonymous on the world wide web and so is advisable if you are a die-hard fan of digital streaming services, online gaming platforms and torrenting clients. Binge-watchers should consider subscribing to the best VPN service USA for uninterrupted access to popular shows, series and blockbuster movies.
7. Do not open emails and links from unknown senders
Nigerian scams are the most common example of malware introduced via emails. A seemingly rich person would ask you to contact him for transfer of millions and billions of money, while behind the screen is actually a greedy cyberattacker who can misuse your online activity (passwords, banking credentials, IP Address, digital identity and even biometric passcodes) for some illegal financial, criminal and unethical activities.
8. Use strong passwords
Here is some password hygiene you should follow to prevent spyware and ransomware:
- Create unique complex passwords based on alphanumeric and special characters.
- Change passwords regularly; you can install a third-party password manager for creating, changing and auto-filling passwords on registered websites.
- Enable 2 Factor authentication on social media accounts and banking platforms.
- Share password-protected files and create backups on secure cloud or different devices.
Your instincts will often notify you if your device has a virus program, but some latest types of malware act differently: they stay on a device, monitor user’s activity, trace the patterns of their online behavior and builds secret connections for data leaks and identity thefts. These are advanced activities and initiated to execute bigger cybercrimes. To maintain your online freedom and digital safety, create a cybersecurity suite comprising an antivirus program, a reliable VPN and follow safe social media practices.