Your Computer Is Infected: What Should You Do Next?

Finding out your computer is infected with malware can be a nerve-wracking experience. Whether it’s a virus, ransomware, or spyware, an infection can lead to stolen data, financial loss, and compromised privacy. But don’t panic! There are steps you can take to mitigate the damage and restore your system to health.


Step 1: Disconnect from the Internet
The first thing you should do when you suspect an infection is to disconnect your computer from the internet. This will prevent any further data from being sent to the attacker and stop the malware from spreading to other devices on your network.

– Unplug Ethernet Cables: If you are using a wired connection, unplug the Ethernet cable.

– Disable Wi-Fi: Turn off the Wi-Fi connection on your device.

Step 2: Enter Safe Mode
Safe Mode is a special diagnostic mode in most operating systems that loads only the essential drivers and services. This can help prevent the malware from running and making it easier to remove.

How to Enter Safe Mode:

– Windows: Restart your computer and press F8 before the Windows logo appears. Select “Safe Mode with Networking” from the menu.

– Mac: Restart your computer and hold down the Shift key until the Apple logo appears. Release the Shift key when the login window appears.

Step 3: Backup Important Files
Before you start removing the malware, it is a good idea to back up your important files. Use an external hard drive or USB stick to copy your documents, photos, and other critical data. This ensures that you don’t lose valuable information if the removal process goes wrong.

Step 4: Use Anti-Malware Software
Now it’s time to use reputable anti-malware software to scan your system. If you don’t have one installed, you can download a reliable program from a trusted source. Make sure to keep the software updated to recognize the latest threats.

Recommended Anti-Malware Programs:

– Sophos Scan & Clean: Free, no-install virus removal scanner designed to rescue computers that have become infected.

– Malwarebytes: Known for its strong detection and removal capabilities.

– Bitdefender: Offers comprehensive protection and removal tools.

Run a full system scan and follow the software’s instructions to remove any detected threats.

Step 5: Remove Temporary Files
Clearing temporary files can help speed up the scanning process and remove any malicious files hiding in these folders. 

How to Remove Temporary Files:

– Windows: Use the built-in Disk Cleanup tool. Go to “Start” > “All Programs” > “Accessories” > “System Tools” > “Disk Cleanup.”

– Mac: Use a program like CleanMyMac to clean up system junk.

Step 6: Check Your Browser and Email Settings
Malware can often change your browser settings, leading to unwanted pop-ups and redirects. Check your browser extensions, home page, and search engine settings to ensure they haven’t been altered.

– Browser Extensions: Remove any suspicious extensions or add-ons.

– Home Page/Search Engine: Reset to your preferred settings.

Also, check your email settings for any unauthorized forwarding rules or changes.

Step 7: Update Your Operating System and Software
Outdated software and operating systems are more vulnerable to infections. Ensure that your operating system and all software programs are up to date with the latest security patches.

How to Update:

– Windows: Go to “Settings” > “Update & Security” > “Windows Update” and check for updates.

– Mac: Go to “System Preferences” > “Software Update” and install any available updates.

Step 8: Restore from a Backup
If the infection is severe and you cannot remove it, consider restoring your system from a previous backup. Make sure the backup is clean and from a time before the infection occurred.

How to Restore:

– Windows: Use System Restore. Go to “Control Panel” > “System and Security” > “System” > “System Protection” > “System Restore.”

– Mac:Use Time Machine to restore from a previous backup.

Step 9: Change Your Passwords
Malware can steal your passwords and other sensitive information. After removing the malware, change all your passwords, especially for critical accounts like email, banking, and social media. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.

Step 10: Monitor Your System
Even after removing the malware, keep an eye on your system for any unusual behavior. Regularly scan your computer with updated anti-malware software to ensure it remains clean.

Preventing Future Infections
Now that you’ve tackled the malware, it’s important to take steps to prevent future infections:

– Install Reliable Security Software: Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware software and keep it updated.

– Enable Firewall: Make sure your computer’s firewall is enabled to block unauthorized access.

– Be Cautious with Downloads: Only download files and software from trusted sources.

– Avoid Phishing Scams: Be wary of suspicious emails and links, and don’t share personal information with unknown sources.

– Regular Backups: Regularly back up your data to an external drive or cloud service to protect against data loss.

Dealing with a malware infection can be stressful, but following these steps will help you regain control and protect your system. At LayerEight, we’re here to assist you with all your cybersecurity needs, ensuring your digital life remains safe and secure. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and keep your defenses strong!  Remember that if LayerEight is your all-inclusive IT provider, we will take care of everything described above for you.