Is the odd behavior “nothing” or is your technology calling for help? If your computer, system, or network is displaying any of these symptoms, you may be infected by a virus.
It’s easy to miss the signs if they happen slowly over a long time, gradually getting worse. Sluggish software and slow applications are signs that something isn’t right – but how can you tell for sure if something is wrong?
Compare your symptoms to this checklist to see if it’s time for an intervention – and security enhancements!
1. Slower Internet and Applications
Are applications running more slowly over time? Sluggish systems, software, applications, and Internet connections aren’t always a sign of a virus, but if the change is rather sudden, these two simple steps will give you more insight:
- Run a speed test to check Internet speed
- Verify processing power
o PC: Open your Task Manager to review programs and processes currently running, close unresponsive or unnecessary programs, view network status, and determine if other users are connected to the PC
o Mac: : Open your Activity Monitor and view the System Memory tab to reach the Show Memory Usage to see how applications and processes are impacting your CPU, network connection, memory, usage, and overall system health.
2. Frequent Freezing and Crashes
Traditional virus design is simple in nature: an executable file installed in a system folder to cause damage to your hard drive, which can eventually lead to catastrophic failure. When otherwise stable applications begin freezing, crashing, or the entire system freezes or crashes, it’s time to run a system scan for viruses.
3. Unexpected Advertisements
Are you experiencing those annoying pop-up advertisements? Search engines like Google have built-in advertising platforms for a non-invasive user experience, but if you start seeing advertisements – or worse, the kind that pop up behind your open browser in a new window that play sound (and you can’t find where it’s coming from), or if they start showing up even when a user isn’t in an active Internet session, your system is likely infected by a virus.
No matter how harmless these advertisements seem, never click on one, and be careful when closing the advertisement window because even the methods that look like an option to close can be designed to trick users into installing malicious software on your system.
4. Increase in Error Messages
Error messages are your system’s way of telling you something is wrong and it needs help. These messages might try to tell you about missing or corrupt system files or applications. A simple step to verify the cause of these errors is to enter the error message into a search engine just as it appears on your screen, and you’ll likely find results with help.
5. Missing, Corrupt, or Extra Files
It’s a good idea to routinely keep an eye on how much of your hard drive is used and how much space is available. This way, if your available space suddenly and drastically decreases, you can tell something is going on and you’ll be able to respond quickly. This type of situation is usually because a virus has installed copies of itself or unwanted files on a computer or server, and has the potential to reach the entire network. Because viruses can also delete critical files, any steps you can take to respond immediately to these threats will only help your network.
6. Hardware Issues
Is your display – or multiple displays – suddenly behaving oddly? Are you seeing lines, color problems, or strange pixel clusters on your screen? Is a mouse suddenly ineffective on one machine or system but not on a different machine – perhaps one not connected to the same network? Inexplicable situations like this are signs of a system in distress, and can spread to other peripherals, like printers – or worse, wireless devices.
7. Random or Unexplained Activity
Other issues, like files and applications that open on their own, random music that starts playing and won’t stop, keys that type independently within a word processing application, emails that seem to send themselves, and other strange behavior displayed by a single machine or multiple machines connected to a network are all warning signs.