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  • Zack Davis

How to Spot a Malware Attack

Approximately 34% of businesses take a week or longer to regain access to their data and systems once hit with a malware attack.

Malware is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of malicious code. It can include:

  • Viruses

  • Ransomware

  • Spyware

  • Trojans

  • Adware

  • Key loggers

  • And more

The longer the malware festers on your computer, the more damage it can do and the more difficult it can be to get rid of. Most forms of malware have a directive built in to spread to and infect as many systems as possible. So, if not caught and removed right away, one computer could end up infecting 10 more on the same network in no time.

Early detection is key so you can disconnect an infected device from your network and have it properly cleaned by a professional.

Look out for these early warning signs to keep your computer and your larger network safe.


Some forms of malware can take on the disguise of being an antivirus app or warranty notice that pops up on your screen. Hackers try to mimic things that users may have seen from a legitimate program, so they’ll be more likely to click through without checking the legitimacy of the pop-up.

If you begin to see a strange “renew your antivirus” subscription alert or a warranty renewal that doesn’t quite make sense, these could be signs that your PC has been infected with adware or another type of malware. You can reach out to a professional or the IT person in your office to check if you are unsure.


Computers can become sluggish for a number of reasons, including having too many tabs open, forgetting to restart your computer or its age. But you’ll typically know your computer and the types of things that slow it down. You want to keep an eye out for a random surge in sluggishness that seems unexplained.

That new sluggish behavior could be a malware infection. One example would be if you don’t have any programs open except a document or another simple app, and yet you experience freezing.

When malware is running in the background, it can often eat up system resources and cause your system to get sluggish.


Applications should not just crash for no reason. Either the software is faulty, there’s been an issue with an update, or something more sinister may be messing with that application’s files.

If you suddenly experience apps crashing, requiring you to restart the app or reboot your system, this is another telltale sign that a virus, trojan, or other malicious code has corrupted the application.


If you open your browser and land on a homepage that is not the one you normally see, have your PC scanned for malware right away. Redirecting a home page is a common ploy of certain types of malware.

The malware will infect your system and make changes to your home screen. Instead, you might be sent a site with endless pop-ups or phishing schemes.

Just trying to change your homepage back in your settings won’t fix the situation. It’s important to have the malware removed.


Another irritating trait of certain types of malicious code is to make your system reboot without warning or explanation.

This can cause you to lose the work you’ve just done and can make it difficult to continue doing additional work. This may happen when malware is changing core system files behind the scenes. With files corrupted, your system becomes unstable and can often reboot unexpectedly.


If you find that a good deal of your hard drive space that used to be open is now gone, it could be a malware infection taking up your space. Some types of malware may make copies of files or introduce new files into your system. If it lists an extreme number of files that you know are incorrect, it might mean that malware has added or copied those files.

Unfortunately, malware files will cleverly hide, so don’t expect to see the word “malware” on a file search. Instead, look for generic names that you did not create or copies of files you know you didn't set up.


If you open a file and find it corrupted, this could be a red flag that ransomware or another form of malware has infected your system and changed the file.

While files can occasionally become corrupt for other reasons, either way, it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by a professional.


Most of us are familiar with those “thinking sounds” when our computer is processing something memory intensive. It may sound like a whirring or a fan as it processes something intensive or large.

If you begin hearing this processing sound when you’re not doing anything particularly intense on your computer, this could signify that malware is running behind your regular applications, exhausting your computer.


Free online malware and virus scans aren’t very reliable. Instead, come to a professional that can ensure your entire system is cleaned properly. And discover more about our Virtual IT Department or contact us directly.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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