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Is my computer infected with malware?

We have gone over what malware is and the different types of malware. Knowing what kind of threats are out there is an important first step in protecting your device. Threats can come from a variety sources: the web, email, phony links, removable devices, and even texts. Could you identify the signs of an infected device? Here are a few:

  • Slow operating system, although you should check to make sure you have enough space on your hard drive first.

  • Unexpected pop-up ads. Always avoid clicking on any suspicious windows and never respond to unsolicited emails.

  • Your friends tell you they are receiving strange messages from you on social media or via email. In this case, we recommend you change your passwords immediately, and enable two-factor authentication where applicable.

  • Your antivirus program is disabled.

  • Unusual error messages and dialog boxes.

  • Your computer crashes or restarts every few minutes.

  • You are unable to start task manager or unable to access the control panel.

So, you think your computer is infected. The first step is identifying that you have a problem, however, sometimes your computer may have malware without showing any symptoms! Next, check to make sure your antivirus program is enabled and up-to-date. Antivirus software will push out updates as new threats are identified. If possible, run your PC in safe mode, then use your antivirus software to run a full system scan. If the results of your scan have not shown any threats, it's worth running another malware detecting program. As we noted, there are always new threats coming out, therefore not all antivirus programs can stay 100% up-to-date in real time. (Note: you should only have one antivirus program enabled to scan for threats in real-time, and run one antivirus program at a time).

There are plenty of excellent free and paid antivirus/malware detection software out there. A few of our recommendations include Sophos (one of our partners), McAfee, Malwarebytes, and Avast.

Prevention is key in order to keep your computer and other devices safe. Regularly back up your devices in the event you need to wipe your computer due to an infection. Finally, make sure your operating system, apps, and other software is up to date, and don't wait on downloading updated software. They usually contain important patches to keep your device safe.

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