Fake social media posts, pop-up ads, and ominous warnings are just a few tell-tale signs your PC has been infected with Malware.
Is your computer acting up? Don’t panic. In this article, we discuss some tips for diagnosing malware and explain how to get rid of it.
If you’re working on a project and suddenly you start seeing pop-up ads, your files begin taking longer to load, or you’re noticing other performance issues – your PC may be infected with malware.
Continue reading to learn some of the most common types of malware and how to get your PC running normally again.
Your computer is running slow
Has your computer slowed down recently? There could be malware running in the background, waiting to be triggered, or monitoring your keystrokes and the websites you visit. If you haven’t updated your antivirus recently, now is the time to run the update and make sure to trigger your trusted antivirus to scan your computer.
However, sometimes if your computer is running slowly, it isn’t malware causing the problem. We recommend you check out these tips for speeding up your computer if you don’t think your PC has been infected.
Your Social Media account is generating fake posts
While email scams are a pretty widely known threat, most people are completely unaware that malware can spread through social media – in fact, social media attacks accounted for over 10 percent of phishing attacks in 2020. So how does malware spread via social media?
While the easiest way would be for a hacker to gain access to your account by finding out login information, there are a variety of other methods that nefarious individuals use to spread malware on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, and even TikTok.
Malware links on social media are generally hidden within something else. For example, someone might copy the profile picture and whatever else is publicly available from one of your Facebook friend’s accounts and send you a friend request. When you accept the request, they might share an image or link with you that acts as a trojan horse (not the virus) for the malware that will infect your computer.
To put it simply, the people that try to cyber attack you on social media are going to get creative. There is really any number of methods they can try and new ones will continue to develop.
The best way to protect yourself from social media malware would be to check your passwords and consider installing a password manager. On top of that, be wary of anyone you’re communicating with on social media platforms, and don’t click any links without an explanation from a trusted contact.
Although pop-ups aren’t as common as they once were, thanks in part to ad blockers and more secure internet browsers, adware programs can bombard their victims with advertisements. Sometimes they can be misleading enough to give you ads for legitimate products in order to net an affiliate fee for the adware perpetrator any time someone clicks on the ad. Other times these pop-ups can contain links to malicious websites that will attempt to drop even more malware on your PC.
If you’re browsing the same websites as usual and receiving new unwanted pop-up ads, chances are your computer is infected with malware. In the case of pop-up adware, the fix is usually as simple as installing an anti-malware solution that automatically performs scans and doesn’t let any viruses or threats reach your PC.
Perhaps the anti-malware trial that was previously installed on your computer has expired or maybe you accidentally deleted it when clearing space on your computer. Don’t worry, there are plenty of free and paid options for anti-malware software solutions like Avast One Essential, AVG AntiVirus Free, Bitdefender Antivirus Free, Microsoft Defender Antivirus, or Adaware Antivirus Free.
Your browser keeps getting redirected
Although not every site redirect is malicious, if you are taken to an unfamiliar site when you click on a link, you could have a problem with malware. The redirect isn’t always noticeable, so pay close attention especially when you’re on banking sites and other websites with sensitive or identifying information.
For example, a banking Trojan may divert your browser to a fraudulent site that looks nearly identical to your bank’s real website. In these cases, the only clue is the URL in the address bar – which will be at least slightly different than when you’re on the correct website.
Redirection attacks typically rely on browser extensions. The best first step would be to look into your browser settings and delete any extensions that have been recently installed or updated as they have probably been infected by malware. It’s also a good practice to disable or delete any extensions you’re not currently using so this is less likely to reoccur in the future.
Unknown applications send you ominous warnings
Malware (sometimes called scareware) using hidden download links and other sneaky tactics to get fake antivirus programs onto your computer is a lucrative business for cybercriminals. Sometimes these downloads can be included with other programs you downloaded (usually for free) on the internet.
Once the scareware program is on your computer, it will send you fake warnings regarding fictitious security threats. They may even disguise their program to look like a real malware scanning program — it will seem really efficient since it’s not actually doing anything. And once the scan is complete, you’ll be directed to “fix” the problems it found – usually costing a fee.
If you think that your computer has been infected with a fake antivirus application or other malware, make sure you install a security suite or antivirus immediately – but this time make sure it’s from a trusted website and developer. There are plenty of free programs available as mentioned above in the pop-up ads section.
You receive Ransom demands
Some malware programs can literally hijack your data and hold your PC for ransom. Some ransomware threats encrypt your photos and documents and demand you pay them in order to regain access. Others will encrypt your entire computer, rendering it completely useless unless you pay to have it “unlocked.”
Although these ransomware threats seem intimidating, most ransomware attacks display false warnings in order to get you to take another step – whether it is clicking another link or paying a fine. For example, they may display a warning from an official-looking agency like the FBI warning you that your computer was used to do something illegal, then attempt to extort you for money in order to use your computer, files, or programs again.
Keep in mind, that even if you do pay into ransomware threats, you probably won’t get your programs back. Download an antivirus application or security suite in order to stay protected against these kinds of threats. Although most trusted antivirus programs should keep you protected from these cyberattacks, you can also add dedicated ransomware protection software to your security arsenal.
Your system tools are disabled
An informed computer user might launch the task manager or check settings if they suspect the presence of malware. However, if you suddenly find that your system tools are unavailable – prompting you to contact your system administrator to gain access – this may have been an attempt at self-defense from malware already on your PC.
Assuming you have access to download new programs, now is the time to download a security suite or antivirus program. If you can’t access new programs, contact us today.
Everything seems perfectly normal
Even if everything is running smoothly like it should, your PC could still be infected with malware. It’s possible for your computer to be infected with malware that leaves a bot waiting on your system awaiting instruction from its command and control system. This type of attack could be used in a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack or a Remote Access Trojan could potentially be harvesting your personal information and keeping quiet so you don’t notice.
That means if you haven’t done a virus scan or checked your security suite lately, now is the time. These types of programs should detect any bad programs that were recently installed and help you remove them. If you still think your computer might be infected, contact a Managed IT Service Provider.
I want to get rid of malware
If you’re ready to get rid of malware that you suspect is lurking on your computer, install a trusted antivirus application or security program immediately, as mentioned above. If you already have a security suite, it is possible that malware got past your protection – which does happen. If this is the case, make sure you manually run an update to ensure your antivirus has the latest malware definitions – then manually run a full scan.
Once you’ve dealt with the problem at hand, now is time to check your defenses. Make sure the antivirus you have installed received high marks from trusted sources like PCMag, and that everything is completely up-to-date. These steps should take care of protecting your local data, but if you’re looking for an additional layer of protection, consider installing a VPN (virtual private network). VPNs work by running your internet activity through an encrypted channel, protecting your data while it’s in transit. Here are our top picks for VPNs for staying anonymous and secure on the web.
I need help securing my work computers
Do you need help with any of these steps? If you aren’t confident you’ve taken the steps to secure your computer, passwords, and data, contact a trusted Managed IT Service Provider like Computer Service Now for assistance.
Computer Service Now has been serving southwestern Ohio for over 30 years with IT services, computer service and repair, network services, web services, security cameras, communications and phone installation, and more. Contact us today for a free consultation for your business.
Keeping your computers secure and staying up with the latest antivirus technology can be difficult even for industry professionals. That’s why you should contact a managed IT service provider to quickly solve all of your problems with malware – so you can spend more time growing your business and less time worrying about protecting your office equipment.
With our high level of customer service and satisfaction, Computer Service Now works hard to be the premier IT firm in the Cincinnati and Dayton region. We offer a wide variety of IT solutions that stay within your budget. For IT-related projects big and small, our experience, expertise, and variety of services allow us to provide the support you need to meet your business needs. Contact us today and let us solve all of your IT needs today!
Our computer services, including computer repair, upgrades, tune-ups, and much more offer you an easy and hassle-free option to keep your office computers running smoothly.