How to Spot Malware


Malware encompasses a range of software programs that cybercriminals deploy to infect computers and networks. These programs can perform many malicious functions, such as freezing access to data and applications, encrypting or deleting data, stealing proprietary and personal information, and spying. IT Managed Service Providers like Qnectus can help your business deploy robust antivirus solutions that stop many of the more basic programs in their tracks, but it is important to address the following signs of infection immediately to prevent extensive damage:

Your storage is unexpectedly full and/or your computer is slow. If your storage is suddenly full or your computer becomes sluggish for no reason, this may be a symptom of malware. Many malware programs deposit unwanted files into your storage, which will take away your computer’s ability to function normally.

Tip: If you notice unusual files, do not open them, and contact your system administrator immediately.

Your internet browser is behaving strangely. In many cases, a deluge of popup ads or a browser that constantly redirects to unwanted websites is an indication of a malware infection (for example, if you type into your browser and it redirects to a site for herbal supplements, this likely indicates infection).

Tip: If you suspect that malware might be causing browser issues, doublecheck your extensions — sometimes malware can install undetected extensions that tamper with your browser’s functionality. 

Foreign applications send threatening messages. Hackers know that many computer users are largely unfamiliar with the functionality and/or presence of legitimate antivirus software. Some attackers, therefore, create programs that look like antivirus software and install them onto their victims’ devices. These programs then often “alert” users to a fake virus, and ask them to “activate” the antivirus software by inputting their personal and financial information.

Tip: If you are receiving threatening messages from programs you don’t recognize, do not enter any information, and contact your IT support team for help right away.

You can’t access system administration functions.

Cybercriminals know that some users will try to investigate any unusual issues with their device through manipulating system preferences, so they purposefully restrict access. If you try to open your computer’s Task Manager or adjust any other system functions and they are disabled, this should be cause for concern.

Tip: Especially in business settings, your system administrator is likely to restrict some or all administrative functions on your device, so this can be a false signal.

You receive ransom demands. 

If an attacker has released ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts your data and demands a ransom for returned access, this is an especially serious threat. Cybercriminals often target businesses with ransomware, as they can put a hold on proprietary information, access to applications, and customer data that they know a business needs to survive.

Tip: If you are receiving menacing warnings from the FBI or other entities that are demanding money in exchange for your documents or access, contact your IT support right away.


Keeping your antivirus software active and up-to-date is one of the best ways to protect yourself from malware, although some attacks are so sophisticated that they can circumvent basic security measures. If you are working with an IT Managed Service provider like Qnectus, they can provide additional levels of protection through forensic technology, disaster planning, and an aggressive data backup strategy. If you would like to learn more about protecting your computer and network from malware, contact Qnectus today.

One Comment:

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