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Nuts & Bolts

April 11, 2013

How to detect malware on your PC

Malware can just be annoying or something very serious

There is growing concern about cyber security, especially among businesses and organizations that maintain vast networks.

But consumers have to be aware of any threats to their personal computers and mobile devices. These threats are usually in the form of malware.

Malware is a general term to describe software you did not knowingly install and that disrupts the normal operation of your machine. It can simply be annoying or a serious threat.

Your anti-virus software is supposed to detect and deflect these programs but, for a number of reasons, some can slip by.

Here are some signs that your PC might be compromised:

- The machine runs at a slower than usual speed. We're not talking about your Internet speed, necessarily, but the speed in which your computer operates software programs and performs tasks.

- You find that your browser is taking you to a different site than the one you selected from your bookmarks, or a search engine gives you odd, unpredictable results. This is a sure sign your computer is infected with malware. After all, the main purpose of malware is to give someone else control over your machine.

Use care in downloading fixes

There are a number of free programs that will scan your system in search of malware, but be very careful to check out any program before you download it. Michael, of Plano, Tex., downloaded MyCleanPC, which is advertised on TV, and now wishes he had not.

“Almost immediately I began noticing an unbelievable number of advertisements of all kinds on my laptop, making my laptop run even slower,” Michael wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “I have so far uninstalled all traces of MyCleanPC from my laptop, and the effect is spectacular. No more silly and annoying ads and my laptop is a bit faster.”

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