The Red Flags of a Computer Virus: What to Look Out For

April 23, 2024 | Blog
man sitting with laptop and waving a red flag

Did you know that there are an estimated 5.4 billion malware attacks annually? There are often no obvious signs that your computer has just contracted a virus. Virus installations can be done without your consent or knowledge to monitor and manipulate your computer and your online activities. Unfortunately, viruses often send your information to a hacker, who can access personal information and commit fraud or identity theft, making you a cybercrime victim.

With viruses carrying many risks today, knowing what to look for and taking quick and decisive action is essential if you sense that your computer may have a virus. That’s why the team at My Computer Works has detailed the signs of a computer virus. We’ve also explained how to prevent viruses from infecting your PC and what to do if you suspect your computer is infected. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to better protect your PC

What Are The Red Flags Of A Computer Virus? 

Several red flags indicate a computer virus. Below, My Computer Works has compiled a list of five red flags that indicate your PC could have a virus and that action may be needed.

Unusual System behavior

If your computer seems to be taking unusually long to start up and open applications, a virus could be the cause. 

However, if your PC’s performance is being affected and seems to be sluggish, ensure that this isn’t due to a shortage of RAM or hard disc space, as a virus is not always responsible for computer slowness. 

Additionally, if you find that files are being deleted, moved, or encrypted, you may be experiencing a malware issue. Malware or malicious software is another form of virus, and you will need to quarantine the threat to stop it from continuing to harm your PC.

Suspicious Pop-Ups And Warnings

If a website provides you with a pop-up saying you have a virus and prompts you to other websites to download or input personal information, these open the door to installing malware or other viruses on your PC. 

In addition, pop-ups and warnings indicate that your computer could already be infected by a virus. Often, pop-ups have malware interwoven in them, and when you click on them, the malware is transferred to your PC. So be wary of pop-ups from sites you don’t trust. 

Unknown Changes Made To Your Computer

Computer viruses can create widespread problems. If unknown apps or programs load when you turn on your computer or you get an alert that states that an unknown device is connected, it’s likely a sign of a virus.

In addition, unexplained alterations in computer settings, unexpected software installations, or unusual system behavior are indicators of potential virus infection. Viruses often manipulate system settings, install unauthorized programs, or cause glitches. So, it is imperative to promptly investigate and address such changes to prevent further damage or data compromisation caused by the virus.

Phishing Emails And Messages

Phishing emails and messages can be described similarly to fishing itself. Essentially, a criminal casts out bait in the form of seemingly legitimate emails or messages from reputable companies hoping to catch their next victim.

By clicking on links or downloading attachments provided by said criminal, the victim unknowingly introduces and infects their computer with viruses that compromise both their online safety and computer safety.

Ransomware Notifications

These notifications appear after malware has encrypted files. They usually demand payment to decrypt or a specific ransom amount to restore the files. If you are receiving these notifications, your computer is under attack and requires immediate action to avoid further damage or loss of your data.

How To Prevent Computer Viruses From Infecting Your Computer

Preventing cyber attacks isn’t impossible. Cyber attacks can be prevented by implementing practical but simple techniques against becoming a hacker’s prey. Have a look below to learn a few easy-to-implement virus prevention tactics:

  • Enable a firewall: A firewall is usually part of anti-virus software and acts as a gatekeeper for unauthorized access. Access your computer’s settings and enable this feature to ensure that this defensive layer is ready to counter viruses headfirst.
  • Block pop-up ads: As a prevention method, utilize an ad blocker and avoid clicking on pop-up adverts. Many browsers and most anti-virus programs have built-in ad blockers, so be sure to activate them. 
  • Utilize a reliable and secure browser: Using a private browser similar to Norton Secure Browser will help improve your online safety as you surf the web.
  • Don’t click on attachments or links: Avoid downloading suspicious attachments and clicking suspicious links that are from illegitimate websites or emails. Trust your instincts if something seems off or too good to be true.
  • Do not download untrustworthy content: Ensure your PC is safe before downloading any files or media onto your device, as videos and images can be downloaded with viruses.
  • Software updates: Make sure you enable auto-updates to software to ensure your operating software and system are up to date, as this ensures protection against the latest virus attacks.
  • Perform regular virus checks: \ It’s beneficial to ensure that the anti-virus system on your device does an in-depth scan for viruses often. This will ensure that it detects, quarantines, and eradicates any viruses currently on your device. 

The Steps You Must Take If Your Computer Has Been Compromised

Don’t panic just yet if you have a virus on your device or suspect you do. The severity of the issue depends on how deep the virus is lodged in your system. If it is lodged too deep, you may need to consult a qualified technician for assistance.

However, a lesser infection may only require installing reliable anti-virus software to run a scan and remove any threats that have been identified.

Below are the basic steps to check and remove computer viruses if your PC has been compromised.

  1. Download a well-established anti-virus or anti-malware software.
  2. Disconnect your device from your internet and select “Safe Mode.”
  3. Open “Task Manager” and check manually for malicious apps.
  4. Use your anti-virus to initiate an in-depth scan of the device. You must quarantine and delete the targeted file if malware or viruses are found.
  5. Update all software (browser, operating system, etc) to ensure you have the latest security patches and clear the device’s cache. 

If these steps fail, you will need to consult a professional who will need to assist you with virus removal.

Wrap-Up On Computer Virus Red Flags 

It can be terrifying and annoying to fall victim to viruses and malware. Fortunately, you now know the signs indicating a virus has infiltrated your computer, how to prevent this from happening again, and what to do about it. Yet, while getting rid of a virus is usually easy to resolve, some viruses and malware can be difficult to remove, even with anti-virus software. 

That’s why if you believe your PC is compromised, it might be time to consult a professional at My Computer Works. Our team of IT experts has extensive experience helping clients remove viruses and protect their computers so that they don’t fall prey to malicious attacks in the future. Call us here if you want to learn more about how we can help you.  


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