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TECHNOLOGY TIPS - 10 INDICATORS THAT YOUR PC MIGHT BE INFECTED

I've talked about ways to protect your computer but here are some signs you should be aware of.  These are indicators that your computer could have one of many types of infection like a virus, a worm, a trojan horse, spyware, malware, or crimeware. Obviously, everyone's PC is different, so it is up to each person to keep an eye on the known and documented causes.

The following may not be an actual symptom of infection but if you find more than just one of them happening at the same time, you would be advised to look into it further.

  1. Performance is sluggish now compared to what it was when the computer was new. Slowing of a computer's speed does not have a single cause.  Maintaining a regular schedule of cleaning your PC will help maintain its speed like it was new.
  2. Longer boot up time. The more programs you load onto your computer will cause this to happen anyway, especially if your computer is older and you're trying to run the latest applications. 
  3. Unexpected shutdowns and restarts. This one is a very strong indicator of a virus not to mention very frustrating if you are doing original work and auto-save is turned off or infrequent.
  4. Your PC freezes up.  The mouse doesn't move and showing the hourglass or equivalent symbol, but it is frozen and even Windows Task Manager won't open. You'll also want to check your hardware for a problem such as faulty RAM, but this can also indicate an infection.
  5. Wrong web page opens. When you type a URL or click on a link, you are taken to a completely different site.  If this happens, there's a big chance that spyware is at work here.
  6. Your Homepage or browser settings are changed. This can be from some software you have installed (it is considered unethical installation practice to do this) but it can also be a sign that you have spyware lurking.
  7. Popups appear when you're surfing the net. If a popup appears when you're trying to close or loading a specific page, it could also be an infection.
  8. Pop-up Alerts Saying You Have An Infection. DON'T click on these; the chances are it is a trojan horse that will spread a virus or attempt to steal personal information from your PC.
  9. Toolbars appear and you didn't install them. It's common to have these installed along with some software you wanted on your system and are loaded in the default installation unless you untick that option during installation.  Malicious toolbars can be installed by malware, so run a Malware to check it out and see.
  10. Emails that you didn't send or posts you didn't make. This just recently happened to me and it is not fun at all.  It's especially embarrassing when a friend tells you that you sent them a strange message or an email with a virus.  If this happens, first change your password with a combination of Upper case, lower case, numbers and a symbol which are much harder to hack.

Computer security is always something you need to take seriously.  If your identity is stolen, fraudulent bank charges are on your account or even your email is hijacked, the amount of time and effort as well as the long-term effects truly have an impact.  Remember to keep your information safe, change your passwords at regular intervals and maintain a schedule of cleaning your computer.  You'll be glad you did.

CATHY MALLERS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 7:34 PM by Dean's Team
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