5 signs your computer might be infected
Brazil was the fifth country to suffer the most cybercrimes in 2021, with 9.1 million cases in the first quarter alone — more than in all of 2020, according to a German consultancy Roland Berger. There are currently several tools available to criminals that facilitate the theft of personal information. ESET, a leader in proactive threat detection, ensures that much of this ease is related to small mistakes that users make, such as: clicking on phishing links, forgetting to update software and not using two-factor authentication. The information security company explains that the sooner a user discovers that they are infected with a virus or other type of malware, the better.
“When a computer is infected, the more time passes, the more damage criminals can do and the more expensive the consequences can be. That is, if the victim takes time to discover that their device is compromised, it is easier for attackers to monetize network access and online accounts. In Latin America, 24% of organizations that experienced a security incident last year were victims of malware infection. It is important not to wait until it is too late to act.” mentions Camilo Gutiérrez Amaya, head of the ESET Latin America research laboratory.
Below, ESET shares a list of 5 signs that may indicate a computer is infected with a virus:
- If a text message appears when you turn on your computer indicating that you need to pay a fee to recover files, there is a high probability that your computer has been hacked. Typically, ransomware groups (malware to steal data, via encryption) give victims a brief warning to pay, along with instructions on how to make a cryptocurrency transaction. The bad news is that even if you follow the instructions to the letter and pay, there’s a good chance you won’t get access to those encrypted files again.
- In some cases, spyware run by cybercriminals and designed not only to collect data from computers, but also to secretly activate the webcam and microphone. This could allow cybercriminals to record and steal videos of users and their families, with the risk of being used in extortion attempts. Pay attention to the webcam light to see if it turns on. Or disable it completely with a cap or tape on the camera.
- Another clear sign that a computer is compromised is if friends and contacts start complaining about spam coming from their email or social media accounts. A classic identity theft tactic is to hijack victims’ accounts and use them to spam all your contacts. You can easily protect yourself from account theft by ensuring they are protected with two-factor authentication.
- Malware can also install plug-ins or extensions to your browser’s toolbar. If one is detected that is not recognized or you do not remember installing it, it may mean that your computer is compromised.
- If attackers manage to break into your computer, they can steal the login credentials and passwords of your various online accounts such as email, bank, etc. Dealing with this scenario can be one of the most stressful parts of any cyber attack, as each account must be logged in as stolen. Furthermore, if an attack could compromise third-party data, such as customer, partner or employee accounts, those potentially affected must be notified. According to ESET, if the computer is compromised, it will be necessary to execute an antivirus tool from a trusted vendor in order to try to find and remove any biased code that is installed, the user should consider the following:
- Change all passwords for accounts accessed on the computer;
- download the application MVP for multi-factor authentication and reducing the risk of a virus infecting any of the accounts;
- Invest in a dark web monitoring tool to check what data has been stolen and/or exposed;
- Freeze the ability to apply for a loan so cybercriminals can’t get new lines of credit;
- Monitor all accounts for suspicious activity, especially bank accounts.
“If you are unsure whether you have completely removed the malicious code from your computer, we recommend that you consider changing your passwords using an alternative device. Contact your bank or security software vendor for more information,” recommended by Camilo Gutiérrez Amaya, from ESET LATAM.
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