Malware has never been so prevalent. Given the exponential rates at which cyber attacks spread, you can expect that it will grow each year. By some estimates, as many as 1 million new malware threats are released every single day. If you have virus protection software on your computer, you get a gold star. If you keep your virus protection up-to-date, double gold star in adulting for you.
Unfortunately, that’s not enough. Many threats avoid virus protection detection, which can only operate based on the threat intelligence that has already been processed. In other words, virus protection covers the past. You’ll need to upgrade your toolbox if you want to combat both the present and the future of malware. In the meantime, here’s how to tell if your computer or device has probably already been infected.
Signs of Sickness
In an ideal world, anti-virus software would cover all of the bases. But just go ahead and assume that’s not true. Instead, be aware of some of these other signs of device sickness:
- Speed — If your device has slowed to a crawl, particularly on functions it used to do rapidly, it may have malware. If the typing doesn’t keep pace, internet surfing is slow, or following a link gives you time for a coffee break, you’re pretty likely to be living in malware land.
- Stability — Devices have improved greatly in recent years. Whereas in the past you might have occasionally had a computer crash, app close itself, or sudden browser closure and think nothing of it, in this day-and-age you should consider it might be a sign of a system problem.
- Advertising — Those annoying pop-ups, if happening all the time, may be a sign of a kind of virus known as adware. Adware targets you with constant advertising, beyond just usual annoyances, and can be a sign of infection.
- Refusing to cooperate — If you can’t open a certain app at all, continually get error messages when performing certain functions, or otherwise find that your device has become obstinate, it more likely signals a change in health, than a change in personality.
- Visual changes — If anything looks distorted, discolored, or otherwise out of the ordinary visually, you might actually have a computer virus causing the “illness,” not a problem with your glasses.
Regain Optimum Health
So if you’ve got any of these signs, short of throwing a device out the window or going after it with a hammer, how do you restore health? Some measures are best applied preventatively, but it’s never too late for a clean-up.
- If your antivirus software is out of date, that’s a great place to start.
- Keep your systems up-to-date. Most updates have more to do with security than features, so have the latest version of apps, software, etc.
- Avoid pitfalls, such as falling for phishing schemes. Also, pornographic websites and other questionable material are more likely to have viruses, so know before you click.
- Use excellent passwords, which you do not reuse. Then, even if your email or device gets compromised, it’s unlikely to spread.
- Beware of false alarms, even a pop-up saying you’ve been infected might actually be a lure. Only notices from your antivirus software or your security provider should be considered genuine.
Get Ahead of the Disease
True, cyber attacks are real and growing, but you don’t need to panic. Threat intelligence feeds provide another angle–you can get the information on the latest tactics before they become broadly known and available as anti-virus notifications. Get online threat monitoring, which combines the best in security information with human intelligence for unprecedented protection against real-time threats.