Latest estimates suggest that up to 90% of personal computers are infected with some form of spyware or adware program. It's important to stay alert and watch for signs of infection on your computer, because some of these programs can do some serious damage to your computer. Let's take a look at some of the main malicious software (malware) warning signs to watch for.
When you open up your browser, has your home page changed? If you go back in and change the settings back to your original choice, you may find that next time you open the browser it's changed again, usually to a different page from the last time. This is probably one of the most common indicators that you have spyware on your computer, so if this happens, get your system cleaned immediately.
Pop-ups are an annoying part of life on the Internet, but if you start getting pop-ups appearing that have your own name on them, be wary. If the pop-ups appear even when you're not connected to the Internet, or your browser is closed, then you definitely need to get your system checked.
Spyware often installs a new toolbar onto your computer system. So if a different browser or search toolbar suddenly appears, and you can't seem to get rid of it, you're most likely dealing with some form of malware at work. Even if you manage to get rid of it, chances are it will keep coming back unless you know exactly how to remove all of its files.
Perhaps you've just discovered that your Favorites list has been ‘tampered’ with. It may be that some new items have appeared that you don't recognize, or perhaps others have disappeared. If you delete them and they come back again, it's probably a spyware infection.
An infection of malware can often make your computer run really slowly. If you find that your system seems to run constantly at 100%, even when you have very processes operating on your computer, then it's likely your computer has been infected by spyware. Computer programs require a certain amount of free space to operate properly, so when spyware is chewing up all your resources, your computer may run at a frustratingly slow speed.
If you find you enter something into an Internet search bar, and instead of going where you expect you end up at an entirely different search engine, then it's likely malware has taken a hand.
Check your modem if you can, and see what the lights are doing when you're not actually using the Internet. If there are lights blinking, or something on your screen suggests that data transfers are occurring, be suspicious. Malware is probably sending or receiving information without your knowledge.
Unfortunately, there are also varieties of adware and spyware that don't alert you to their presence at all. So you need to check your system as a matter of routine, even if you don't observe any warnings signs of infection beforehand.
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