How to Detect and Fix an Infected PC

It’s unfortunate that malware is not exactly showing signs of slowing down, and malware authors are getting craftier when it comes to disguising their malicious creations to help them slip under the radar. As you surf the internet, visit social networking sites, communicate via email, download files, instant message, and more on your PC, you can easily be exposed to the various types of malware making the rounds.

You may have noticed that your PC is not acting the way it used to when you first purchased it.  If so, malware may be the culprit.  Here are some ways to detect if your PC has been infected, as well as methods to correct any such problems to get things back to normal, as suggested by researcher Tim Armstrong of Kaspersky Lab.

Malware Detection

Irritating Popups

Irritating popup windows are one of the telltale signs that your PC is infected with malware.  One of the most common classes of malware driven popup windows comes in the form of scareware, or fake antivirus warnings.  These popups tell you that you have security issues on your PC, and suggest that you download their software in order to fix the problems.  Of course, the software you eventually download is almost always worthless, and your security problems will still remain.  Even worse, if you decide to fall for the trick of paying for such a bogus download, your pockets will be lighter.  When you see the popups, hit X to exit them.  Avoid hitting OK, or any other options that are presented.  You can also go in the Task Manager by hitting Ctrl + Alt + Delete and manually close the process that is causing the popup.

Armstrong cited online messaging service Skype as one of the programs that could have scareware warnings associated with it that say something suggesting you have an urgent security vulnerability on your computer.  He added, however, that websites are not serviceable when it comes to detecting malware on your PC, so any popups claiming to do so should be taken with a grain of salt.

Less than Desirable Performance

Poor performance is another thing you should keep an eye on.  Before you go ahead and toss your PC out the window thinking it’s outdated, take a closer look to determine if its malware that is making it run much slower than it should.  Many cybercriminals are good at getting you to mistakenly download install malware on your PC in bunches.  With several malicious applications running on your PC at the same time, it’s no wonder why it is acting in a snail-like fashion.  Armstrong described the force behind such malware, saying: “One of the popular scams right now is something called ‘pay per install.  There are third-party companies out there in places like Russia and China that will allow you [bad guys] to go to their forums and sign up to receive a piece of software and they will pay you for every thousand users you can fool into installing the software.”

Unexpected Sounds

Odd sounds that emanate from your PC are another sign that it may have been infected with malware.  Armstrong noted: “They’ll be things like warning beeps.  When an error message pops up a lot of times, it will come along with a warning message and certain pieces of malware will stifle that window so you can’t see it. But you might still hear the warning message — a sound in the background that you didn’t initiate.”

Odd Images

While surfing the net, are you seeing images on sites that seem as if they are out of place?  For example, are pornographic images showing up in place of standard images on a news site, or are you getting them in popup form?  If so, your PC is probably infected.

Missing/Altered Files or Folders

If your PC is loaded with files, it may not be easy to keep tabs on your entire inventory.  Still, you may notice that some of your important files or folders have mysteriously disappeared.  Another symptom of infection is the existence of altered icons or file contents.  Whatever the case may be, files or folders that are missing or altered usually indicate an infection, especially if you know for a fact that you did not perform any of the deletions or alterations yourself.

Malware Correction

So, now that you have looked at some of the possible symptoms of infection and deemed that your PC is one of the unlucky ones plagued with malware, what can you do?  One of the first things you can do is restart your PC in safe mode by holding down the F8 key when it begins to reboot.  From the menu, select the Safe Mode option.  Once you are up and running, open up your antivirus software and perform a comprehensive scan to locate and eliminate the source of any infection.

One problem with certain forms of malware is that they will prevent your antivirus software from working, thus a scan and repair may be out of the question.  What you can do to circumvent this is pop a Linux-based rescue CD into your PC.  Many antivirus software vendors supply the files at no cost, so if you can get on another computer to download them and burn them onto a CD, you should be good to go.  Once the CD is inserted, it will reboot your PC and repair any issues it finds.

While the methods to clearing up your PC can help you get rid of pesky malware, prevention is key to keep yourself from having any problems in the first place.  It’s a good practice to operate with all important updates in place.  This goes for your operating system, trusted antivirus software, and applications.  Updates issued by vendors often address known security issues and vulnerabilities, and their installation could be the difference between a clean and infected PC.

For more on this topic, visit

4 thoughts on “How to Detect and Fix an Infected PC

  1. Hi.. What a innovative blog.. Must say i never read such information before in any relevant blog. Its very beneficial for newbie, who even don’t know anything about how to handle error..

  2. Everyone has computer but to handle errors that pop up is a very difficult task. I must tell you that you have shared such an valuable information in detecting and fixing an infected PC which will definitely be helpful in resolving these problems….

  3. Pop-up windows can be very dangerous. That’s actually the reason why my PC got corrupted. One pop-up window can ruin everything. Some of them carry high-risk threats to computers. Thus, it is advisable to configure your internet browser to block pop-up windows.

[gp-comments width="770" linklove="off" ]