As if 2020 weren’t plagued enough, cybercrime rose 273% from its normal average. It’s an unfortunate consequence of every worker that typically sits behind a computer transitioning to remote work. There’s no supervision or layers of protection from the Internet that they’s have at their office.
With such a large propagation of security breaches, there will be a ripple effect across everyone’s security. The larger scale of attacks will make it more likely that your computer gets infected. Navigating the trenches of the web has just become a proverbial minefield.
If you’ve been infected, you may have to repair or replace your computer. This is a guide on choosing which is the best option.
Signs of Infection
First and foremost, you have to diagnose the problem. Often, this is the easiest part of cleaning your hardware. Viruses, malware, and adware present themselves in very obvious ways — although, there are some sneaky tactics employed by hackers.
Adware targets your computer with a bloat of ads. This is the easiest to notice and the easiest to remove. If you’ve been infested with pop-up ads, even while navigating your Desktop, you’ve been injected with adware.
No self-respecting OS will present seedy pop-ups to their users.
Other problems are a little more difficult to diagnose, but nothing that requires a professional.
The biggest sign is performance degradation. You’ll notice a slow-down in everyday tasks, like downloading files or even copy-paste. This is because your computer resources are being used maliciously by other services.
A lot of the time, your hard drive will be the target of attack. It’s where people store their data, including private and financial information. You’ll notice a sharp declination in everything; your computer will come to a halt when the read-write I/O is in trouble.
The performance issues can be reconfirmed in the Task Manager (CTRL+ALT+DELETE). Navigate to the “Performance” tab and look at the graphs. If anything is running at 100%, it’s being used improperly and without your permission.
What to Do if Infected
Now that you know you’re infected, you have to act fast. Immediately, unplug your connection to the internet.
This can be done by software, but it’s best to unplug the source. Some hackers deactivate the ability to disconnect via a software interface, so you have to disrupt the connection physically.
You want to disconnect so they’re no larger able to access your computer. The Internet keeps a door open for them.
You should now boot into Safe Mode without network capabilities. Safe Mode acts like an isolated environment; it deactivates most services for diagnostic purposes.
What you want to do now is to uninstall any programs you’ve recently installed. Delete any .exe (executable) files that you’ve also downloaded. This is their main point of injection.
From there, delete temporary files. Go to “Start” and search “delete temporary files.” It’ll take you right to the option to delete these files — it’s where a lot of hackers put their stuff to continue an attack.
It’s advisable to uninstall any programs that you’re unfamiliar with. If you don’t remember what it’s for or if you’ve installed it, get rid of it.
Next, you’ll need a malware deletion tool. The most recommended is MalwareBytes. It’ll look under every rock that you may have missed; it does an excellent job scouring for rats.
After all of this, you should change every password you can think of: bank accounts, emails, etc. You should also call your bank or credit union and alert them about a potential attack on your financials.
Now, boot your computer into normal mode. Check for everything you did previously. And then reconnect the Internet.
Do another scan with Windows Defender and MalwareBytes.
The Worst-Case Scenario
Sometimes, you can’t beat them. If you’ve booted up your computer, and it still looks as if you’re infested, you might consider consulting a professional. Although, they’ll likely repeat the same steps.
Since this happened, you’re faced with a few more options that can save your computer. But they’re rather drastic.
The Ultimate Decision: Repair or Replace
From here, there are only a few more options that are viable. You can repair it or replace the computer.
Repairing it will likely involve reinstalling a fresh Windows or another operating system. This essentially nukes any hidden files or intruders.
But even that may not stop the more sophisticated hackers. Some can target hardware level equipment that goes beyond software intrusion.
This is where it gets tricky. You can start the repairs, but it’s mostly a guessing game. You may have to replace your hard drive, or it may be more sinisterly intertwined with your computer.
Repetitively replacing parts will get pricey. And at some point, you have to cut your losses.
If the problem has reached this far, you have to do some cost-benefit analysis. Is it worth repairing and putting in new parts to hopefully squelch the malware?
It’s likely not. And doing so, you run the risk of introducing the virus to your newly purchased parts.
Purchasing a new computer is usually your best option at this point. And a lot of them are very affordable nowadays.
You’re Back Online; Stay Safe!
Malware, trojans, adware, and everything in between are running a muck ever since COVID-19. They’ve turned the once beautiful landscape of the Internet into a dangerous, apprehensive place.
If you’ve been infected with a virus, there are a few signs of its presence. When you’ve made the diagnosis, you should turn off your internet and run some recovery steps. If that doesn’t work, you might need to ask yourself, “do I repair or replace this ol’ thing?”
If you need help making that decision, or if you’re just looking to swap out your computer, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to us for an appointment or consultation.