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Have you ever started your computer and just had to sit and wait………? When your desktop finally shows up, things don’t get any better. Your Internet is sluggish, your programs are taking forever to load, and your cursor is dragging 20 seconds behind your mouse. It might be time for a new computer…….or, mostly likely, you’re infected with Malware.

Sometimes a malware infection is very obvious. Other times it sits silently in the background grinding things to a painful death. If you want to know whether or not your machine is sick, you first need to understand the symptoms. Let’s take a look at a few telltale signs.

Obvious signs of infection

You’ve got ransomware

This one’s the most obvious, and unfortunately becoming more popular. Ransomware authors want to make it perfectly clear that you have a malware infection—that’s how they make their money. If you’ve got ransomware, you’ll get a pop-up that tells you your files have been encrypted and there’s a deadline to pay a ransom in order to get them back.

Browser redirects

You click on a link after doing a Google search, however the link opens to a different page than what you expected. You head back to your search results and try a different link. Same thing happens. Over and over you’re redirected to a different site from the one you’re trying to reach. That is a telltale sign of a malware infection.

Different home page

Say you set your home page to be your favorite sports news site. But for some reason, keeps coming up. You also notice some new toolbars below your browser window that you can’t get rid of. Most likely  you’ve got an infection.

Bombarded with pop-ups

Pop-ups to the point of no escape. You close one, another one opens. Or you’re not even online, and you’re getting pop-up messages on your system. Some sites have legitimate, albeit terrible, ad experiences that feel like something odd is going on, but really isn’t. However, most of the time, if your screen is loaded with pop-ups, you’re looking at a malware infection of some kind.

Less obvious signs of infection

Computer running slow

Lots of things can contribute to a slow computer. You could be running too many programs at once, you may be running out of hard drive space, or there’s not enough free memory. If none of those are true for you and your computer is still slow, it’s possible you’re infected.

New, unfamiliar icons on desktop

Sometimes legitimate software that’s downloaded can come with a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) . These ‘PUP’s’ can weigh down your computer, and most security applications would consider them Malware.

Constant crashing

There are a couple reasons why your applications or system might crash, including potential incompatibility between programs or software and hardware that needs updating. However, some forms of malware, such as rootkits, dig deep into the Windows kernel and latch on, creating instability.

Web browser freezes or is unresponsive

Slow Internet could be just that—check your wifi signal or your download speeds with your Internet provider to be sure. But if everything checks out and your browser grinds to a halt, it could be a sign of an infection.

Lots of bounced email

We’ve all mistakenly typed in the wrong email address and hit “send.” But if you’re getting a suspiciously high number of bounces, or emails that return to your inbox undelivered, something else is going on.

First, your email address could have been hacked and is now being used to spam your contact list. Or malware could be the culprit.  An infected computer can send out emails using the addresses it found in your computer. If the “To” address doesn’t work, the message bounces back to the “From” address, which is often yours.

Whether it’s plainly obviously or there’s no real sign of malware, you should be regularly scanning your computer with security programs like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. If malware is detected, follow these simple steps to clean your computer.