• Burton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Know When a Virus Takes Over Your Computer, Tablet, or Smartphone

Updated: May 26



There are many cyber threats on the Internet such as phishing schemes, credential stuffing, crypto-jacking, and cloud hacking, but nothing is as dangerous as having your computer, or smartphone infected with a virus. Devices unfortunately do many things that can make you think you have a virus on your devices such as failure to start, a slow device, or unknown error messages that appear out of nowhere. Most viruses make themselves known once they are infecting your gadgets, but some lurk under the surface of your devices. Check out these quick and easy tips to help you locate and remove viruses on your personal devices.


1. Your devices begin to restart themselves. Devices will restart themselves when you haven't installed a critical update. If this happens, will get a notification, sometimes you won't and that's okay. There are occasions when a random glitch will cause your devices to restart and sometimes your devices will restart because a criminal has access to them. They will restart your device suddenly to get malicious software to finish installing on your devices. If this happens, you need to shut your devices down immediately and have your favorite tech come to check your devices for infection.


2. Random Error Messages Appear. Most tech devices automatically take care of themselves and stay fairly problem-free so it's rare your devices will display error messages saying that you need to update drivers, or that there is a breach of your IP address. These are messages that appear from malicious software installed on your gadgets or the result of your browser being hijacked as a result of drive-by hacking. Sometimes a simple reboot of your device is all you need to do to remove these bogus messages. You can also attempt to find the malicious program and remove it from your device.


3. You fall for a tech support scam. If you fall victim to a tech support scam in which a crook wants to gain access to devices to help 'solve' a problem, there's a good chance they have installed software to log into your gadgets whenever it suits them to steal valuable information. Again, look to see if there are any unknown programs installed on your devices. If you find any that you are not familiar with, remove them immediately.


4. You can no longer access files on your devices. When you suddenly can't access documents, videos, and pictures on your gadgets, it's a good bet that your devices have been infected with ransomware. Ransomware is one of the worse forms of viruses on the web. This malicious program will lock or encrypt your files so you can no longer access them. It also could be a variety of Wiper viruses that will just wipe your device clean. If your devices get hit with ransomware or wiper, your only option is to restore your files from backup.


5. Your devices are running hotter than usual. If your devices are running hotter than usual, it's a good sign that someone has installed crypto-jacking software on your devices. Crooks who are looking to mine cryptocurrency will take over computers, tablets, smartphones, and sometimes gaming systems to use the power from those devices to generate more processing power to mine more crypto. If your device won't stay cool or shuts down because of overheating, someone is using your device to mine for crypto. If this happens, you will have to find the mining software running in the background and disable it.


How to stop viruses from breaking into your system. 99% of the cyber attacks that happen to your devices require user interaction. This means 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 rebooting your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS to see if your device works better. If you can't access files, this trick won't work, only restoring from the backup will. Also, running a scan with your anti-virus program might find the offending program. If not, you will have to call in the big guns in the form of your IT professional to help you with this.


Cyberattacks are here to stay as we rely on our devices for work, school, and our personal lives. You should always stay vigilant to any threats that involve your devices. I hope you can use these tips to help you find out if your gadgets are infected with viruses. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!


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