How Can I Tell If My PC Might Be Infected with Malware?

Data theft, file loss/corruption, system disruption, email/SMS spam, unauthorized popup ads and remote control. When your PC is infected by malware, these are some of the major risks you could be exposed to. Prevention is the best-case scenario. But no antivirus can guarantee 100 percent protection from malware.

No antivirus can guarantee 100 percent protection from malware

You must brace for instances when malware does seep through any defenses you may have. It’s vital that you know the telltale signs of malware infection. Whereas malware is designed to be as unnoticeable to the end user as possible, it is after all an alien and unwelcome application. Most times, you can pick up warning signs that something feels off. Here are some of the major red flags.

  1. Unexpected Pop Ups
    Have you ever been working on your PC when suddenly, a window pops up on the screen with an alarming message? That could very well be a sign of malware. Typically, the notification will declare your computer is virus infected. It will propose that the only way you can get rid of the unwelcome message is by clicking on the highlighted button. It’s a classic trick where someone purports to offer you assistance against malware whereas in the real sense, they want to use your uninformed consent to gain entry, steal information and propagate infection.
  1. Phishing Emails
    It’s difficult for an email user to completely avoid phishing messages. Spam filters do a good job of preventing many phishing emails from getting to our inboxes, but a few will break through. A phishing email is not necessarily a sign of malware infection. What you should pay attention to is an uptick of these scam emails. If you were getting one phishing email per month but now have to grapple with five a week, then that could be because malicious software on your PC is aiding that nefarious effort.
  1. Slowing Performance
    If you regularly use your computer, then you already have an idea of what ‘normal’ looks like as far as processing speed and response time is concerned. Against this baseline, a slow computer could mean a virus problem. Certain forms of malware will overload your computer by occupying a significant proportion of your processor’s and memory’s capacity. Slowing performance that has no clear cause may be due to malicious software. There may be valid reasons why your PC would suddenly slow down. But these can be tied to definitive changes such as a recently installed application. If you do notice slowing performance that has no clear cause, malicious software may be at play.
  1. Frequent Crashing
    Malware aims to perform or facilitate unauthorized activity but without overly disrupting the PC user’s experience. That is easier said and done though so the presence of unwelcome apps will sometimes lead to unresponsiveness and/or unexpected rebooting. Also, malware may deliberately initiate a reboot to further embed itself in your computer’s system. Crashing does not always mean malware infection. Bug-plagued or poorly configured apps can destabilize your PC’s operating system too.
  1. Changed Browser Homepage
    Your browser’s homepage is not something you will regularly change. For most people, it remains with the default setting throughout. In many instances, that would be a major search engine page such as or So, if your browser’s home page changes and you do not remember doing it, that is likely because of a virus. Often, trying to change it back to the default won’t help much as the malware will amend the setting again to the page it prefers. This will happen until the virus itself is removed.
  1. Antivirus Warnings
    Fake infection popups are a sign of malware. But so are legitimate alerts from your PC’s antivirus. It’s after all your first line of defense. It’s true that antivirus software developers are in business so they’ll regularly push notifications meant to encourage you to move to a paid plan or subscribe to an additional security product by them. Any legitimate warning from your antivirus should be taken seriously Still, irrespective of the motive, any legitimate warning from your antivirus should be taken seriously. It’s one of the easier and safer ways to get rid of malware. Your antivirus can detect malware even before it is successfully installed. But no antivirus will ever ask you to call a phone number for assistance.

Wrapping Up
As long as your PC is connected to the Internet, receives email and/or has had a USB flash drive plugged into it, there is always the risk of malware infection. This realization can be a source of anxiety. It doesn’t have to be though. As long as your antivirus is active and up-to-date, you practice safe computing habits and keep an eye on the warning signs of infection, you can rest easy.

Suspect your PC has a malware problem? Contact us.