Computer viruses are an ongoing and evolving threat. Millions of computers in the U.S. are infected with malicious software – also known as malware – and new viruses surface regularly. And it’s possible for malicious software to infect your computer or device without you knowing.
But how can you tell if you’ve been a victim of a malware attack? There are several telltale signs your device may have a virus. We’ll share those red flags and outline steps you can take to get rid of the virus, and provide some tips to help protect your connected devices in the future.
How to tell if your computer has a virus
A computer virus is a type of malware that infiltrates a computer and its programs. It’s similar to the way the flu infects your body’s immune system and multiplies. Viruses can be installed on your computer without your knowledge or consent, and can insert new, malicious code that can monitor and manipulate your online activity.
Some malware may not seem serious, but they coud lead to more damaging problems. For example, criminals could use a virus to access to your personal information which could enable them to commit identity theft and other types of fraud.
You may be thinking you couldn’t possibly be affected. Or perhaps you’re wondering how bad a malware infection could be. The answer? Quite bad. For example, the MyDoom virus, discovered in 2004, is considered the most damaging virus ever released. Not only was MyDoom the fastest-spreading email-based worm, but it caused $38 billion in damage.
Ransomware is a another kind of virus that poses a threat. Ransomware entices its victims to click on a legitimate-looking link in an email that contains malicious code. The malware then prevents you from accessing your data by encrypting it. It holds that data hostage until you pay a ransom.
One example of ransomware was the destructive WannaCry virus of 2017, which targeted systems running Windows OS. Victims were asked to pay ransom in anonymous payment systems such as Bitcoin in order to retrieve their data. Keep in mind, even if you pay, you may not get your data back. That’s one reason why it’s recommended you shouldn’t pay the ransom.
Computer virus warning signs
Computer viruses are about as diverse as computer users. There could be thousands of new viruses and malware attacks each year and they can affect devices and operating systems in many different ways. But several virus warning signs tend to be similar across the board. Here’s how to tell if your computer may have been infected with a virus.