What if your computer, your cable or DSL modem, your smartphone, or an IoT device is infected with malware? How would you know? Malware is designed to be difficult to detect, once an attacker has possession of your system they do not want to reveal their presence. In today’s article we will provide some tips and solutions to detecting and eradicating a malware infection.
What are the signs that your device is infected? Here is a list of signs of malware infection provided by security firm ESET.
- Your computer, smartphone, a particular program, your web browser, or your Internet connection is slower than usual.
- Your computer won’t shut down properly, or takes a long time to shut down.
- Your fan is running hard even though you are not using the computer, or a device like a smartphone is hot to the touch. This is a sign your computer is busy doing something without your knowledge.
- Automatic updates hasn’t run in a long time, or you can’t manually run updates. Anti-malware updates won’t run either.
- You see social media posts from you to your friends that you didn’t send. Or your friends and family receive emails from you you didn’t send.
- You are getting a lot of pop-up ads, messages, and fake security alerts.
One way to check out what’s happening on your computer is to open Task Manager and see what’s running.
Clicking on the performance tab will show you graphs of the utilization levels of the CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network. If the CPU, Memory, or Disk is running at or near 100%, this is a strong indication of a problem.
Go back to the Processes tab. Clicking at the top of the CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network columns will sort the list by that category, and the services or applications consuming the most resources will come to the top. If there are any unusually named processes consuming lots of resources, this could be a malware problem. A little Google searching on the process name will tell you if it is a legitimate or malicious process. Ending processes indiscriminately can cause your system to become unstable or lock up, so use care.
If you suspect your system is infected, try rebooting the system first, as power-cycling the system will kill any malware that is running in the RAM.
Download a fresh copy of Malwarebytes and run a full scan. Malwarebytes is able to install itself in a heavily infected system. Run the Malwarebytes updates, then unplug the computer from the network. (The Internet connection, not the power!). Use Malwarebytes to scan your system for infections, and remove what is found. Keep scanning until your system is clear. Then connect to the Internet, and see if your system performance has improved.
If that doesn’t work, or you just want to be sure, seek professional help. Sure, you can try the Geek Squad, but if there is a Micro Center in your town, you can take it there. I also would recommend taking your computer to one of the many local computer support and repair shops in your city. These professionals are usually less expensive and more experienced than the support crew in the big box electronics and office supply stores.
Good luck on your cybersecurity adventure and remember: “If you connect it, protect it.”
- CISA – National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
- Stay Safe Online
- Tech Republic – Botnets
- ESET – Malware signs