You can fix some issues by rebooting. But others will require professional help. Know when you can resolve tech problems yourself.
by Burton Kelso
Numerous cyber threats lurk on the internet, but perhaps nothing is more dangerous to your business than having your computer or smartphone infected with a virus. Don’t ignore the signs: Your computer or phone may fail to start, begin operating at a slower speed or generate unknown error messages.
Most viruses make themselves known once your gadget has been infected. However, some lurk under the surface of your device and require detective work to find them. Check out these quick tips for determining whether your personal device is infected.
- Your phone keeps restarting. Devices may restart themselves when you haven’t installed a critical update or there’s a random glitch in the software. Sometimes, however, your device may restart because a criminal has access to it and is installing malicious software. If this happens, shut your device down immediately. Take it to your tech professional to get a thorough check of your device for possible infection.
- Random error messages appear. Most devices have antivirus software that runs automatically and keeps things running problem-free. So, it’s rare that your device will display error messages saying that you need to update drivers or there is a breach of your IP address. These messages are more likely to appear from malicious software that has been installed on your device or your browser being hijacked during a drive-by hacking. Sometimes, a simple reboot of your device is all you need to do to remove these bogus messages. You also can attempt to find the malicious program and remove it from your device.
- A promise from tech support that’s really a scam. Watch out for these schemes in which a criminal may pose as tech support to gain access to your device and “solve” a problem for you. If you’ve fallen for one, you likely had software installed that allows them to log onto your gadget whenever they want to steal your valuable information. Again, look to see if there are any unknown programs installed on your device. If you find any that you are not familiar with, remove them immediately.
- You can no longer access files on your devices. When you suddenly can’t access documents, videos and pictures on your gadgets, you likely have devices that have been infected with ransomware, one of the worst forms of malware. This malicious software will lock or encrypt your files so you can no longer access them. It also could be a variety of “wiper” viruses, which will wipe your device clean. If your device gets hit with ransomware or a wiper, your only option is to restore your files from a backup. Here’s an important reminder: Always keep a backup of your files.
- Your devices are running hotter than usual. This could mean you’re a victim of “crypto-jacking,” where a hacker has installed malicious software onto your device. Crooks who are looking to mine cryptocurrency will take over computers, tablets, smartphones and, sometimes, gaming systems to use their power source to mine more cryptocurrency. Watch to see if your device won’t stay cool or shuts down because of overheating. If this happens, you will have to find the mining software running in the background and disable it.
How to Prevent Viruses in the First Place
Nearly all cyberattacks that happen to devices require user interaction. As such, in most instances, you will need to click on a link to open a door for a hacker to gain access to your gadgets or fall for a scheme that tricks you into allowing someone to gain access to your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
In many instances, you can fix these issues by restarting your Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS device to see if your device works better. But if you can’t access files, this trick won’t work; only restoring from a backup will. Also, running a scan with your antivirus program might help pinpoint the offending program. If that’s not an option or these other methods don’t seem to be helping, you will need to call in tech support or an IT professional to do some additional checks.
As we rely on our devices more and more for work and throughout our personal lives, cyberattacks likely will only grow more common. Don’t be naive about the threats. Always stay vigilant when it comes to keeping your data as well as your business and personal information protected.
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