Signs that your computer is infected.

Your computer is booting and running slow.

Although this is not always the case, a slow running or slow booting computer is generally a sign of an infection.  Many times malicious software will drain your system resources.  This can be particularly apparent when you are booting your computer, starting a software program or browsing the internet.  If your computer is running slower than usual, it’s a good sign that you have an infection.

Your antivirus software starts and scans automatically.

Let me start by saying that a legitimate antivirus software will NEVER automatically start scanning your computer, without you previously setting it up to do so.  If your computer just all of a sudden starts scanning for viruses it is almost always a rogue antivirus malware program causing the “scan”.  Typically it goes like this.  You start up your computer.  A window with a fake virus scan pops up.  You will then be shown the scan results.  These results will always say your computer is infected, and you will always be asked for money.

Your internet browser brings you to a webpage asking for money.

I can not tell you how many times I have gone to a customer’s computer where the initial complaint is that a virus is preventing them from using their internet, only to find out that their computer is infected with a malware program similar to the one described above.  Only to have the customer then tell me that the rogue program IS their antivirus.  These programs are very good at looking like official software.  They even have names that sound legitimate.  Trust me when I say they are not.  These programs are a scam.  They offer no protection and in fact ARE the infection.  They’re sole purpose is to scam you out of money.

You can’t access administrative features of your operating system.

This one might not be apparent for the average user, simply because these are advanced features that most people tend to never use.  (Although I highly recommend learning about and using these features, and it is my hope to write articles in the future teaching you just that.  So stay tuned!)  The following is a list of features that may be disabled by a virus or malware:

Task Manager – Commonly known as CTRL + ALT + Delete.  By holding these three keys down simultaneously you will open a tool called Task Manager.  A powerful and commonly known tool that allows you to examine system resource use and  currently running programs.  A sure sign of infection is if this feature has been disabled.

Control Panel –  The control panel allows you to adjust your computer’s settings.  From this panel you have access to a variety of different applications including security, internet access and software removal.  If you are unable to access any of these settings it is likely your computer has been infected with a virus or malware.

Programs –  One item than gets targeted more frequently than others is the programs application.  This is the location where you would remove any software programs installed.  If you can’t access programs it is difficult to remove a rogue program and thus the virus can wreck more havoc on your system.

Downloads – I’ve seen many infections impact the way your computer handles downloads.  One infection would just download copies of itself instead of the file you selected download.  Thus re infecting your computer every time you downloaded a file or software.  I’ve also seen infections disable your ability to download anything.  The idea is that you won’t be able to download software to remove it.

Your computer looks and works differently.

I remember the last time I was on a tech support call with my mother.  I was trying to help her to log into facebook, and she was having a hard time, even with my simple instructions.  Then she says something that caught my attention.  “Oh this damn computer never does what I want it to.  It just has a mind of it’s own and does what it wants.”  After a little probing I realized that her browser was being hijacked by an infection.  Much like the kind described above.

The moral of the story is that your computer is just a complex system of programs.  Maybe 20 years ago it was more common to see systems crash or act funny.  Today all these problems have for the most part been worked out.  If your computer is acting like it has a mind entirely of it’s own, my first guess would be an infection.