The rise of phone and email scams has changed the computer threat landscapes, but computers still get traditional malware and adware which can present a security risk as well as being incredibly annoying. Here are some signs that your machine might be infected with unwanted adware or malware.
There are lots of things that could cause a slowdown in computer operations; file system errors, an increase in programs on startup or a hardware problem (still using an old spinning hard drive? If so, come see us to upgrade to a solid-state drive, you’ll be glad you did). But if your machine is suddenly slowing to a crawl, it could be an indication that malware or other processes are running behind the scenes.
A surefire sign of adware, unwanted browser extensions and malware is erratic browser behavior. If you seem to be getting lots of pop ups or being redirected unexpectedly to websites you did not intend to visit, it is worth looking into the issue. Adblockers are not only useful from a convenience standpoint, but can sometimes stop aggressive popups from opening, so it’s worth considering downloading a reputable one such as AdBlock Plus or UBlock Origin. It’s also a good idea to check the installed extensions in your browser, by clicking on the settings button and selecting extensions. Users often inadvertently install unwanted extensions while downloading software or visiting less than scrupulous websites.
How About a Scan?
Everyone should have an active antivirus program installed and set to run on its own. If you’re a Windows 10 or 11 user, the operating system will complain with a notification in the lower right corner if you don’t have one turned on. Windows has a built-in antivirus program called Windows Defender which is free and well-integrated with the OS. For most users who are just casually browsing the web, or are not prone to getting viruses, Defender should be sufficient. If you’ve gotten viruses before, however, or if you are using your computer for business or accessing critical financial data, it’s worth considering a premium antivirus service. Here at MCT, we recommend Vipre Antivirus and Webroot Managed Antivirus—feel free to give us a call or drop an email to discuss what is most appropriate for you. These are active virus shields—they will scan new downloads, files and folders which are being accessed or moved and will do regular deep scans of the rest of the system. These sorts of programs are best at recognizing malware when it is first introduced to the computer.
A Second Check?
There are a number of anti-malware utilities that are not active shields but fall more neatly under the malware removal tool category. Malwarebytes Free is a utility that has been around in one form or another, for over a decade. It is great for scanning periodically (once a month or so) to detect if there is any adware, malware or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) on your machine which might have snuck past your antivirus. Super Anti-Spyware is another excellent and free utility which will run a deep scan on your computer, remove viruses, adware, and PUPs, along with tracking cookies. If you are noticing new performance issues with your PC, or suddenly getting a lot of pop ups, it is a great idea to download and scan with one of these tools.
Staying secure in an online world is an ongoing endeavor for all computer users. If you need help keeping your machine running smoothly and safely, give Mankato Computer Technology a call.