Everyone has done something stupid with computers. Some people have forgotten to save their work, while others have accidentally hit “reply all” on a private message. But these pale in comparison to clicking on dangerous popups or downloading computer viruses straight from the internet.

You’d be surprised by how many people do as they’re told.

When malware gets all up in your computer, hackers gain access to a treasure trove of information, including your bank details, passwords, and what you really did on your last trip to Vegas. The worst part is, most malware is difficult to detect -- even by some antivirus software. Fortunately, there are a few signs that can tip you off.

Mind-numbingly slow systems

When your computer starts to slow down to the point that it takes several minutes to load up Microsoft Word, your computer is either super old or super infected. If your PC is new, then hackers have definitely snuck in a program that’s taking up processing power or bandwidth.

To confirm whether this is the case, open Task Manager on Windows or Activity Monitor on Mac and check your CPU usage. If all programs are closed but you’re still seeing abnormally high CPU activity, you need to shutdown your computer and have it analyzed by a computer specialist right away.

New apps appearing out of nowhere

Seeing a mess of apps you don’t remember downloading is another tell-tale sign you’ve been hacked. It can be easy to disregard them, but they could allow hackers to spy on you from the comfort of their own homes. Other warning signs include new toolbars in your browsers and apps and pop-up messages that try to lure you to some very questionable websites.

“Yep, I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to happen.”

Whenever an unfamiliar app appears on your PC, get rid of it immediately. Besides protecting yourself from hackers, cleaning up your computer is a good way to keep it running smoothly.

Disabled security software

Since antivirus software is there to clue you in on a malware attack, it’s usually the first system that’s disabled by hackers. Without it, your PC is essentially running blind, letting just about any dangerous program through. That’s why it’s important to routinely monitor your security systems and perform full-system scans when you can.

If you notice something’s been turned off, disconnect from the internet to prevent malware from connecting you to the hacker’s network. Then run your antivirus software again to remove the threat.

Strange access requests

Depending on your firewall settings, apps may require certain access permissions. Much like lengthy Terms of Service agreements, it’s easy to dismiss the warning message and hit Allow whenever they pop up. But if you don’t want a security blunder as big as Equifax’s in 2017, take at least a few seconds to check out the request. Again, if an app you don’t recognize is asking to gain access, be very careful.

Friends are getting strange emails

Have things been tense between you and your coworkers? Or are people in the office asking you about a get-rich-quick scheme they got over email? If so, malware may have hijacked your email account to send authentic-looking phishing messages.

“What was up with that email last night, Larry?”

When someone approaches you about weird messages, tell them you may be a victim of a cyberattack and warn them not to open any links or attachments from you in the next 24 hours. During that time, run your antivirus software and change your passwords as soon as possible.

At the end of the day, a little paranoia can go a long way in keeping your computers secure. But if you don’t have time, Red Key security experts can be paranoid for you and ensure your systems are protected 24/7. Call us today to learn more!

Red Key is a leading cybersecurity company serving New York City, Westchester County, Fairfield County Connecticut, California & beyond. Click here to learn more.