Cyber Security

Malware Under the Magnifying Glass

Written by Victoria Wilson
Magnifying Malware

So, now that you have a deeper understanding of the different types of malware, it's time to test your sleuthing skills against some real examples of malware and examine the warning signs that your computer or network may be compromised. 

Following certain clues carefully can lead you straight to the source of a malware infection. Do you know what to look for?  

Here are 6 clues that your computer or network may be infected with malware:

1) It's running slowly 

One of malware's main activities is to slow down your operating system. There are many reasons why your computer could be running slowly, but malware is certainly a possibility, after more basic storage or data problems are addressed. 

2) You're bombarded with suspicious pop-up ads

You are probably well-aware of these tell-tale signs of malware! These pop-up ads often conceal other malware programmes and are a type of spyware that try to track your passwords or steal sensitive data. If you begin seeing these pop-up ads on your computer, then malware is the likely culprit. 

 Computer Screen Ads

3) Your contacts and friends are receiving strange messages from you 

This is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Whether it's on Facebook or Instagram, you may start seeing messages from your friends saying "Did you send me that link?" Or, "Hey, you'd better change your password or delete your account. I think you've been hacked!" Look for shortened links to videos in messages from your followers (like bit.ly) and be skeptical! These will redirect you to a series of malicious domains, eventually directing you to download some form of malware. 

4) Unfamiliar icons appear on your desktop

If you’ve noticed unknown or new icons on your desktop or in your web browser's toolbar, you most likely accidentally downloaded sneaky programs called PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). They are malicious programs that can do a lot of damage and expose you to data leakage, displaying annoying ads or pop-ups on the screen, or adding toolbars on your browser.

5) You can't access your control panel 

Certain types of malware will attempt to lock you out of your control panel or task manager in Windows, so that you are unable to act as the network administrator of the computer. If you can't access your controls, you may be a malware victim! 

6) You keep getting messages that your security programme is disabled

Some types of malware actually disable your antivirus programmes without your knowledge! They are designed to leave users without any defence and make it difficult for users to detect them. If you already tried to reboot your computer, closed and opened the security solution and all your troubleshooting efforts were useless, you could be dealing with malware!


Here are some strategic ways to prevent a malware infection:

  • Make sure you have an aggressive backup and recovery strategy to recover infected or lost files.
  • If you allow users to bring their own devices to your network environment, make sure they are segmented into a separate area of the network and you only allow the specific protocols and ports needed for them to perform their jobs.
  • Run antivirus software on all your client end points.
  • Effective staff training to ensure all staff understand how to identify and respond to a risk.

Other effective solutions include:

Layered Network Security - stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape with a layered approach to security, providing next level cyber-threat detection and prevention.

Multi-Factor Authentication - reduce the likelihood of network disruption and data breaches, going beyond the traditional 2-factor authentication.

Secure W-iFi - defend your Wi-Fi from unauthorised devices and users and protect your systems and data to take your security to the next level.

What steps has your organisation taken to prevent malware infection? A proactive conversation with a member of our team can help you to assess your preparedness and avoid system infection. Contact us to learn more! 


Feeling confident? Put your malware knowledge to the test and see if you can solve our Cyber Clues challenge! The first person to make the correct accusation wins our mystery prize. Time is of the essence... 

Make Your Accusation (Cyber Clues) Sign


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