Is your device running slow? Maybe the battery is dying quickly or you are experiencing frequent system crashes. You may also notice unexpected pop-up windows or problems with shutting down or restarting your device. These are all signs that a hacker infected your device with malware.
Signs of malware include:
- Frequent freezing or crashing
- Deleted or modified files
- New programs, files or desktop icons that you didn’t install or create
- Programs running or closing without your consent
- Changes to your security settings that you didn’t make
- Someone is sending strange emails or social media messages to your contacts without your permission
- Your default search engine has been changed without your permission
- New toolbars appear in the web browser
- Browser links redirect to the wrong webpage
- Your camera activates without your consent
Malware comes in many forms, including viruses, trojans and ransomware, but the logistics are always the same. Malware is any type of malicious software that is unknowingly installed onto your devices, designed to do damage or disable your computer, phone or tablet.
Types of malware include:
Viruses attach to files and programs on infected websites, flash drives (USB), and emails activated by opening the infected application or file.
Worms transfer and copy themselves from computer to computer.
Trojans look like a legitimate application or file and mislead a user to load as well as execute the malicious software onto their computer.
Rootkits enable an unauthorized user to gain control of a computer system without being noticed.
Keyloggers record keystrokes made by a user in order to gain access to passwords as well as other personal/financial information.
Ransomware blocks access to your system or data until you pay a sum of money.
Spyware gathers data from your devices to take control of its features.
Immediate Action Steps
Although antivirus software can prevent many malicious software threats, it won’t prohibit you from installing malicious software onto your device or clicking on malicious links in a phishing email. If you notice that your device is running slow, restarting itself, overheating, or crashing, it’s time to take action. Follow these steps on the affected device:
- The virus may only be present in a program you recently installed. First, uninstall recent apps. Then, remove new browser extensions.
- Download a virus scanner.
- Disconnect your device from the internet. This will help stop the spread of malware to other devices on your network.
- Restart the device in safe mode. To learn how to restart your specific device in safe mode, go to the device manufacturer’s support site.
- Run a full system scan to check for viruses.
- If you find a virus, delete the file(s).
- Rescan your device to check for additional threats. If you find additional threats, delete those files too.
- Once the scan comes back clean, restart your device. It no longer needs to be in safe mode.
- Change your passwords. You should use unique, strong passphrases on each account.
- Update your operating system, software and browser. These updates will patch security vulnerabilities to help protect your data
*If you are still noticing issues with your device, it may be time to bring in a professional.
Remember, these are just basic steps to help you through the process. Go to your device manufacturers website or reach out to their customer service to get full, detailed instructions to remove viruses from your specific device.