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.

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An Antivirus Will Not Protect You from User Error

Cyber security graphic

It would be pretty great if antivirus protected us from all the online security threats out there. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case.

Often, customers come to us asking if they should purchase a third-party antivirus software rather than use the basic one that comes with their operating system. Our answer to this question always tends to be: stick to the antivirus that comes with your computer. 

Let’s take a look at why below.

What antivirus can and can’t do

Antivirus software works by scanning your devices, applications and files for traces of viruses or malware. Viruses are a type of malicious computer program designed to alter how your computer operates. It can, for example, steal sensitive data or lock you out of accessing your files.

Viruses are scary stuff – and antivirus is vital for defending against these types of threats. However, antivirus isn’t a holy grail. It only protects against one type of cyber security threat. There are a whole plethora of other threats out there that you need to watch out for. 

Human error is the biggest security threat out there today 

Recent research found that a massive 85% of data breaches can be traced back to human error. This means that it’s not viruses or malware responsible for most successful cyberattacks; it’s people. 

As humans, we all make mistakes – and this is what today’s cybercriminals count on. Many of today’s cyberattacks focus on manipulating victims into clicking suspicious links or sharing financial information with a fraudulent entity. Here are some examples:

  • Phishing emails: Phishing emails are fraudulent emails criminals send to their victims. Typically, the email will impersonate a trusted brand. It will ask the victim to either click a link, download an attachment or share sensitive information. There were 241,342 victims of phishing in the US in 2020 – and those are just the ones that were reported. 
  • Clicking on dodgy online advertisements: Malvertising is a type of cyber attack technique where hackers inject malicious code into advertisements. When you click on the ad, the malicious code launches on your device, enabling the hacker to steal your data or even take it for ransom. 
  • Replying to texts from unknown senders: Similar to phishing is what’s known as SMishing. SMishing happens when a cybercriminal sends a fraudulent text to your mobile, pretending to be a trusted entity. The text will usually contain a link, which takes you to a page where you’re asked to share sensitive information – like your bank card information.

The best protection is education

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