Ten points to know that you are under attack

Anand Mokashi – 

Internet users face one perpetual worry of their computer attacked by a virus.

I have compiled a 10-point checklist.

If you see one of these, I strongly recommend that you have a qualified IT expert examine your computer. Sadly however, if you do not see any of these symptoms you cannot rule out that your computer is infection-free.

Just like biological viruses, some computer malware (bad software) can work in stealth and hiding and cause harm.

Popups Galore: A sudden appearance of pop-ups and messages on the desktop, either advertising things, saying that the PC is infected and needs protection, or that you have won some unbelievable prize, all point to a malware infection. Malware is the wider category of bad software and includes viruses, spyware and rogue ware.

Computer extremely slow:  This can be caused due to a variety of reasons but most likely there is an infection. Malware typically uses a lot of the computer’s resources, making the system run exceedingly slowly.

Certain programs do not start or run:  A common symptom; you initiate the programme but nothing happens. Bizarrely sometimes, another programme starts running. If this happens, it is you who should be running to your IT specialist.

Internet slow or does not connect:   Frequent loss of Internet communication is another common symptom of infection, although it could also be due to a problem with your service provider or router.  If your computer has been infected, the malware could be connecting to a URL or opening separate connection sessions, thereby reducing your available bandwidth or making it practically impossible to use the Internet.

Multiple windows open and display pages not requested: This is called unauthorised traffic redirection, and you are likely to be taken to pages designed to fool you into providing personal information and completing surveys.

Disappearing Files: Though unusual, some malware delete, encrypt or just move documents from one place to another. An urgent check-up would be in order.

Antivirus disappears, Firewall disabled: A characteristic of many malwares is that they disable the installed security systems. An isolated case could be attributed to software failure; but if many or all security has been disabled, you could be in trouble.

Funny characters, strange symbols appear or the screen goes dark: Please call your IT consultant.

Games stop working, library files corrupted, computer hangs: Once again, these are signs of infection.

Computer has gone berserk. If the computer starts acting on its own, you suddenly find your system has been sending emails without your knowledge, Internet sessions or applications open sporadically on their own, your system could be compromised by malware.

Disclaimer: An accurate diagnosis of a virus or any malware is not possible without a competent qualified professional examining your computer with the help of relevant tools. This article is for information purposes only and is a non-exhaustive summary list of common symptoms exhibited by malware infected computers. If in doubt about your computer’s health, get expert opinion immediately.

Anand Mokashi is an IT Lecturer, Consultant and Digital Media Specialist with a passion for all things online. Email: anand_mokashi@consultant.com

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