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How to tell if your PC or Mac is infected with malware

Posted on 18 May 2016


First of all, Catalyst Network Solutions is located around the globe, with our HQ office in Edmonton Alberta Canada and smaller, but just as powerful remote offices in Calgary AB, Vancouver BC, and Perth Australia.

So, picture this: you start your computer and it’s slower than it ever has been before. It was fine last night… What’s going on here? When your desktop finally shows its face, 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. You might have tried to open too many programs at once. Or…

You might be infected.

Sometimes this is what you can experience when a malware infection is plain as day. Other times though, it’s a silent killer. If you want to know whether or not your machine is sick, you first need to understand the symptoms. So let’s take a look at the telltale signs.

Blatant signs of infection

You’ve got ransomware

This one’s the most obvious. 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. Also, all of your files may have a new extension after them, like .locky for example, and they will not open either.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site. We have successfully dealt with over 80 cases across Canada and the USA for business and home users alike. In many cases, we are able to get the data without paying a ransom.

Downtime expected: 45 minutes – 8 bus. Hours. It’s likely you could be down for most of the day, if you have some offline work to do, it’s a good time to do it. Otherwise, pack it in for the day, and we will contact you when it’s all fixed.

Browser redirects

You click on a link after doing a Google search on “my computer’s acting strange.” Link opens to a different page. 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, my friend, is a malware infection. Catalyst will make sure that this never happens again as well, our NeverRest tools are able to stop infections like these, before they start.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site.

Downtime expected: 15 – 45 minutes. – These are generally really easy for us to repair and fix, don’t worry it won’t take long we will have you back up and running in no time.

Different home page

Say you set your home page to be your favorite sports news site. But for some reason, Yahoo.com keeps coming up. You also notice some new toolbars (rows of selectable icons) below your browser window that you can’t get rid of. Catalyst will make sure that this never happens again as well, our NeverRest tools are able to stop infections like these, before they start.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site.

Downtime expected: 15 – 45 minutes. – Grab a coffee and take a brisk walk, we’ll handle this one.

Bombarded with pop-ups

We’re talking: can’t escape. Close one, another one opens. Or you’re not even online, and you’re getting pop-up messages on your system. Some sites admittedly have terrible ad experiences that feel like something nefarious is going on (but really isn’t). Most of the time, if your screen is loaded with pop-ups, you’re looking at an adware or spyware infection. Catalyst will make sure that this never happens again as well, our NeverRest tools are able to stop infections like these, before they start.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7. For something simple like this, we can easily have you up and running again generally in less than 35 minutes.

Downtime expected: 15 – 45 minutes. – Grab a coffee, we have you covered.

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. Catalyst will make sure that this never happens again as well, our NeverRest tools are able to stop infections like these, before they start.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site.

Downtime expected: 15 – 45 minutes. – Visit the water cooler, tell a co-worked a funny joke you heard, or have you covered.

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. Out of date, system drivers can be a major cause of this as well, Call Catalyst we can have you updated in no time.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site.

Downtime expected: 15 minutes to 5 hours.  – Give us a few moments to install what we need or check the PC logs, we will have the PC running again as soon as possible. If it is a hardware failure, there might not be a fix, we need to order new parts and install them for you. We have a stock distribution network and hardware partners across Canada so we will have your machine up and running as fast as possible at the lowest price.

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 infection.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site. We can also help to make sure you are running on the latest vendor software. Doing this can sometimes help increase range and overall performance as well.

Downtime expected: 15 – 45 minutes.

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 could be going on.

DNS could be the issue, or your email address could have been hacked and is now being used to spam your contacts list. Or malware could be the culprit. How? An infected computer sends 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. Having DNS that is secure and private is also strongly recommended to prevent social type hacking attacks at your Internet Service Provider or domain registrar.

What to do: Call a professional, Catalyst is available to help with these sorts of issues 24/7, call our main line 780-669-2592 or log a support request on this site.

Downtime expected: 45 minutes to 6 hours – DNS can take a while to repair, but if the issue is just malware on your system we can have that fixed up in less than 15 – 45 minutes.

Mobile infections

Battery life drains quickly

Yes, something else we all need to watch out for. Cell phones are not immune to malware. If you notice your battery life draining quickly, it could be that you’ve got some hefty programs open, such as games or music streaming services. It could also be that your battery is on its last leg. Unfortunately, the third possibility is mobile malware.

What to do: Catalyst NeverRest mobile has the ability to help here, we can remote into to your phone and resolve most issues.

Downtime expected: 15 minutes tops. Give us a call it’s an easy fix in most cases with NeverRest mobile on the phone.

Unusually large bill

This one’s pretty clear-cut. Pay close attention to your cell phone bill. Are you being charged for messages you didn’t send? Is your data plan getting busted? Are you getting texts from your provider saying you owe money for something you didn’t purchase? Mobile malware is to blame.

You can protect against mobile threats using anti-malware software designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. For example, Catalyst NeverRest Desktop Services, and Catalyst NeverRest mobile services act as safeguards on devices. It will protect against malware infections, spyware, hijacking, and unauthorized surveillance.

What do do: If requested, Catalyst has services that allow us to monitor your bills from common vendors like cell phones, and ISP. If there is a burst in fees. We can let you know, and we can look at why it may have occurred, and in some cases, obtain a credit from the vendor if the acts are malicious or beyond the client’s control.

Stealth infections

No sign at all

Is your computer running like a smooth criminal? No issues whatsoever? You still might be infected. Many forms of malware, including botnets and others designed to steal your data, are nearly impossible to detect unless you run a scan.

What to do: Our NeverRest software looks at all running applications live, as well as runs scans on software that is not yet running in memory. It’s key to perform scans like this at least weekly, but no one like to run a scan when they are working. That is why NeverRest is able to run these scans after hours for you, so you never have to skip a beat.

Again, with our offices located around the globe in Edmonton Alberta Canada, Calgary AB, Vancouver BC, and Perth Australia. And our 24/7 remote support, Catalyst has you covered.

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