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Is it a Virus?: The Top Signs You Have a Computer Virus
Computer code on a screen with a skull representing a computer virus / malware attack.

Is it a Virus?: The Top Signs You Have a Computer Virus

Computers are becoming more integrated into every part of our lives. Which opens us up to more data breaches and malware than ever before.

The news is full of articles on major cyber-security breaches and malware infections. And trends suggest that these breaches are only increasing in frequency and severity.

Computer viruses can cause major security breaches. And these data breaches are very costly for businesses and consumers.

On average malware attacks cost businesses 2.4 million dollars. And it takes around 50 days to remedy a malware attack. 

It is important to act quickly if you suspect you have a computer virus. Early virus detection prevents further data breaches and damage to your computer. But how do you know if your computer has a virus in the first place?

Keep reading for our top 12 signs that your computer may be host to a virus.

Top 12 You Have a Computer Virus

Viruses can cause major damage to your computer — it’s in your best interest to get rid of them as soon as possible. 

Keep a look out for these signs your computer has a virus.   

1. Unexpected Pop-Ups

Frequent pop-up ads are usually a sign that your computer has a virus.

It’s important to never click on dubious pop-ups — dangerous malware can hide in these ads. Sometimes pop-ups will falsely alert you to the presence of a virus. These insidious pop-ups are often a type of rouge-ware. 

Rouge-ware viruses request that you pay to download a program that will remove the fake virus. But usually, it opens you up to more viruses and malware!

2. Minimal Storage Space 

Speaking of pop-ups look out for ones from your system. A low disk space message is a common system message that could indicate you have a virus.

Take a look at your files and delete any unnecessary or duplicate information.

This can help your computer run more quickly. Also, keep an eye out for suspicious file activity. Like unexplained new files or disappearing files.

Keep an eye out for this pop-up message: “You are running out of disk space on Windows (C:).” This lack of space might be due to a nasty virus eating up all your free space. 

3. Additional or Missing Files

Check your documents and files for strange activity. If you notice strange files or programs on your hard drive a virus might have put them there.

Viruses eat up storage space on your PC by installing extra files onto your hard-drive.

Viruses also wreak havoc on your system by deleting or misplacing essential files. This disrupts your computer’s functioning. And it becomes impossible to run certain programs.

Some virus can also encrypt your files so you can’t open or access them. So say goodbye to your family photos and your midterm history paper.

Preventing viruses is ideal, but having a back up external storage drive is a great way to protect your files.

4. Delayed Start-up and Slow Performance

Does your computer take forever to load? A delayed start-up or sluggish programs may be a sign that your computer is host to a virus.

If your computer is dragging, check a lack of storage space as the cause first. Limited hard drive or RAM memory can cause your computer to lag. 

Malware and viruses are notorious for eating up your RAM and making your system slow. Malicious programs, like viruses, run undetected in the background absorbing your RAM.

5. Recurring Program Crashes

Unexpected program crashes are a typical symptom of computer viruses. Computer viruses target your hard drive and can lead to all sorts of system failures.

They can even crash your entire computer!

After a computer crash, your computer may no longer turn on. Or it may have compromised functionality.

Back up your files after a crash and then take your PC in for maintenance.

6. Excessive Hard-Drive Noise 

Does your computer make more noise than normal? Do you notice that your computer seems to be working hard, even in sleep mode?

A nosier than the usual computer could be a sick computer. If you notice your hard drive is working overtime when it shouldn’t be, you probably have a virus.

Computer viruses continuously run in your computer’s background. Sometimes they are transmitting valuable, sensitive data. Or it downloading more damaging files onto your computer.

7. Hacked Email or Social Media Accounts 

Viruses are more powerful when they spread. And once a virus gains access to your computer it won’t be long before it accesses your online contacts.

Viruses will hack your social media or email accounts to spread their nasty software to other unsuspecting victims. You might have a virus if your friends start receiving strange messages or files from you that you didn’t send. 

If you think a virus compromised your online accounts, change your passwords immediately. Then have your hard drive wiped of any malware traces.

8. Above-Average Network Use

Have you noticed that your connection to the internet is very active, even when you aren’t using it?

An over-active network is a classic sign a virus is on your computer. Viruses use your internet connection to spread to other computers. And they also use the web to download more malicious files onto your computer.

Either way, a network connection makes a virus stronger — which spells trouble for you.

Put your computer in safe mode as soon as you suspect virus activity on your PC. This will sever it’s an important connection to the web and help minimize the virus’ damage.

9. Ad-Blocker or Virus Protection Disabled

Is your virus protection or ad-blocker disabled for no reason? A virus may be causing this vulnerability.

Viruses like to operate uninhibited by ad blockers and virus protection. Many viruses find ways to bypass these programs. But it is so much easier to disable these programs all together so they don’t have to deal with them.

Your ad-blocker and anti-virus should be running whenever your computer is on. Especially if you’re connected to the internet. Ensure your programs are running properly to protect yourself from viruses and malware.

10. Browser Troubles

Your browser is your PC’s connection to the world. And this connection to the world can be a source of malware and viruses. The internet is fraught with malicious sites and dangerous files.

Issues with your internet browser could mean trouble for your computer. Slow surfing or unexpected browser changes are warnings that a virus may be lurking on your computer.

Be wary if your browser redirects to unknown pages. Viruses can also hijack your browser and redirect you to malicious sites. 

11. Inability to Access Control Panel

Stubborn viruses will go to great lengths to remain on your PC. If you can’t access your control panel a virus is probably the cause. 

Not being able to access your control panel makes it difficult to uninstall a malicious program. 

Try rebooting your computer in safe mode and consult a professional.

12. Everything Seems Normal

Even if your computer is running perfectly well, you need to regularly check for viruses and malware.

As hackers become more sophisticated so do their viruses. Advanced viruses are great at covering their tracks. Which means your computer can be hosting malicious programs without your knowledge.

When it comes to cybersecurity it pays to be thorough. Always keep your anti-virus program enables. And conduct regular scans to root out sneaky viruses. 

What is a Computer Virus?

Okay, so your computer may have a virus? What does that actually mean?

Viruses are only one of many types of malicious files that can infect your computer. And we categorize these cyber-threats based on how they spread and what they do.

A virus is malicious software that runs when you access an infected file, disk, or drive.

Viruses gradually spread to other programs and files on your computer. The goal is to stay concealed while infecting as many files as possible.

Ultimately the virus will activate its payload. Early viruses were just annoyingly destructive. Today, viruses steal sensitive information like email passwords and banking information. 

What Types of Computer Viruses are There?

Different computer viruses affect different systems. Keep reading to learn about some of the main viruses infecting PCs.

Boot Sector Virus 

Boot sector viruses spread via removable media. And today these nasty computer bugs spread via flash drives or email attachments.

Boot Sector viruses have fallen out of fashion in recent years. They were most popular when people used floppy disks to boot up computers.

Boot sector viruses begin running as soon as your computer boots up. These viruses are particularly formidable. They infect your entire master boot record. And they are difficult to remove.

Removal usually requires a complete system reformat. Especially, if the virus damaged or encrypted your boot sector.

Multipartite Virus

Many viruses operate by only affecting one system or process. But, multipartite viruses wreak havoc on multiple programs and computer processes.

Instead of only targeting your files or boot sector, these viruses will go after both. This enables them to be effective and easily spread.

These viruses are unpredictable. And their actions are usually influenced by your computer’s operating system. Meaning this virus can look different on different computers.

This means multipartite viruses some of the most frustrating viruses to detect and treat.

File Infector Virus

These are among the most common types of viruses. But they are also one of the easiest viruses to detect.

File infector viruses attach themselves to frequently used host files. Whenever you access the file, the virus is active. Eventually, the virus can completely consume the host file rendering it unusable.

Direct Action Virus

A direct action virus is a type of file infector virus. It works by attaching to a single file or program. When the program is active, so is the virus. 

While the virus is active it will search for other similar programs or files to infect. It lives in these files and does not install itself into the CPU’s memory. 

These viruses have a mild impact on your computer’s performance. It does not affect any system process and has minimal impact on files. Some may become inaccessible after a time but it won’t alter or delete files.

This virus used to be very dangerous, but it has become less of a threat in recent years. The average malware security program is adept at detecting these viruses.

Resident Virus

The other main type of file infector viruses is the resident virus. Resident viruses install themselves onto your computer and they are not tied to any particular files.

This makes resident viruses more difficult to detect and remove. Since they install themselves onto the computer they can continue to operate even after the original source of the virus is gone.

You may need a specialized approach or a complete system reboot to get rid of them.

There are two main types of resident viruses: fast infectors and slow infectors. Fast infectors aim to cause the most damage in the least amount of time. They are easier to detect because they cause so much damage so quickly. Slow infectors are more difficult to spot. Because they slowly infect your computer with progressively worse symptoms.

Resident viruses can even glob onto your anti-virus software enabling it to infect every file the program scans!

Polymorphic Virus

Polymorphic viruses are tricky to detect and eliminate. They evade your system’s anti-virus software. Because every time the virus replicates its binary code changes.

But, anti-virus programs can only blacklist one form of a virus. So, the multiple variants the virus generates easily slips past the blacklist.

Polymorphic viruses encrypt themselves onto your system. And over time their operations will change. So, the effects of the virus are continuously evolving 

Get Expert Help to Fix Your Computer Today

Overwhelmed by all the different ways a virus can hurt your computer? That’s okay, we’re here to help.

Computer virus removal can be tricky on your own. How do you know you got all the malware files associated with the virus?

Hire professional help and get your PC back to working condition as soon as possible.

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