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How to Check if Your PC is Infected with Malware

Occasionally, your PC can get infected with malware and usually without your knowledge. Malware can get downloaded through various ways such as infected USB drives, and downloading malicious files unknowingly. Malware can be detrimental to your PC’s performance and can also lead to corruption & deletion of crucial files. At times, your PC may seem to be working well, but this doesn’t mean it’s not affected by malware. However, most of the times there are tell-tale signs that all is not well with your PC.

7 Signs that your PC is infected with malware

Malware comes in different forms: viruses, worms, trojans. Different viruses and other malware types manifest differently once they get into your PC. However, signs that your PC is infected tend to remain the same across different malware. So how can you tell that your PC is infected? Let’s dive in.

  1. Frequent PC crashes

Sometimes, your computer application can close unexpectedly or freeze during operation. Occasionally, you may encounter a BSOD (Blue screen of Death) that is a sure sign that all is not well.

  1. Unexpected pop-ups messages

Unexpected window pop-ups are a clear sign of a virus or malware infection. These pop-ups might deceive you into visiting other sites in search of an antivirus, music files or any other files which may potentially download malware on your system.

Upon clicking on these harmful pop-ups ,  spyware such as trojans, system monitors, tracking cookies and adware can be downloaded onto your system and steal your personal information, passwords and also seize your browser without you knowing.

  1. Slow computer performance

If your files and application take longer to load or if your computer takes much time to start then this is a confirmation that there’s a high likelihood that your PC is infected with a virus.

Also if your computer is running unusually slow, and it’s not due to running out of RAM, then the likely culprit is a malware infection

  1. When software security is disabled

If your software security has stopped functioning and you have not disabled it, then it’s likely that some nefarious malware is in the works.

  1. Hard drive activity is doubtful

A hard drive that makes a lot of  noise continually even  when the computer is not in use or with only a  few programs are running  can be an indicator that your PC is infected with malware.

  1. Unable to access files, folders and certain settings of your PC

Some malware such as the notorious Wannacry ransomware has the ability to lock down your files and system settings. If you find that you are unable to access certain files and folders on your system, chances are that your system has been compromised by a virus or malware. Let’s look at how you can check for Malware in 3 operating systems namely: Windows, Linux and mac.

Here’s how to check if your PC has a virus

  1. Windows

Sometimes windows computer gets infected with malware and other viruses though not all slow and disturbing systems are fraught with malware. However, there are telltale signs as we have just discussed for example your applications crashing, your system freezing and running unusually slow.

Similarly, if your computer is working well that does not mean that it doesn’t have a virus. Decades ago, the malware was more conspicuous and used a lot of system resources. However, modern-day hackers have become smarter in coding malware that runs covertly and silently in the background thereby avoiding detection. The malware can easily steal vital information such as credit card details

Checking if your PC is infected with malware

Let’s now see how you can check if your PC is infected with malware.’

Scanning your PC with an antivirus / antimalware program

One of the surest and most reliable ways of detecting and weeding out malware is by scanning your PC. Luckily, Windows 10 comes with a built-in anti-virus system known as

Windows defender that runs quietly in the background, detecting and removing malware in realtime. If you are running earlier versions of Windows like Windows 7 or 8, a good anti-virus / anti-malware software will suffice. One of the best-recommended solutions includes Malwarebytes which works quite well with Windows Security to provide and extra protection layer to your system,

Checking running processes using the Task Manager

The Task Manager is a useful utility tool that gives insights on system metrics such as running process, CPU, Disk and memory utilization. Usually viruses and other potentially harmful programs and malware overwork the system and cause a surge in the CPU and Memory utilization. To launch Task Manager and get a view of the running processes simply press the combination of Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

Strange and confusing processes that gobble up a lot of CPU and RAM are usually indicative of a malware. If you are unsure of a process, simply right-click on it and select the ‘Search online’  option to gather more information about the process online.  

  1. Linux systems

Linux is usually considered a safe and stable operating system. Infact malware designed for Linux systems is rare to come by and this may lull you into a false sense of security. The truth is, hackers are getting sophisticated by the day and are writing code that can even hit Linux systems, whether it’s a lightweight Linux distro or not.

One of the forensic tools you can use is the WireShark protocol analyzer. You can use it to monitor incoming and outgoing connections and help you detect malicious ones. Another handy tool you can use is top or it’s enhanced version htop which will give you a glimpse of the running processes and their memory utilization.

  1. Mac systems

Just like Linux systems, it quite hard to come across malware that targets mac systems. This does not mean that mac systems are totally immune to attacks. Years ago iOS was virus/malware proof, but the same cannot be said anymore. There have been reports in recent years about security breaches and viruses that hit macOS. Like with other systems, signs that your mac is infected with malware include sluggishness, multiple adverts splashed on your web browser, the appearance of toolbars that you never installed on your browser, and pop-ups on your desktop to mention a few.

Mac comes with a built-in Antivirus protection tool called Xprotect that wards off suspicious files and threats. It scans all downloaded files and ensures they are free from threats. It will prompt you if a suspicious file is found before you think of opening it or running an installation file.

Additionally, you can download the BitDefender scanner from the Apple store and scan your system fro malware.