Securing your desktop is perhaps the first step you should normally undertake to ensure a smooth, hassle-free computing experience. However, breaches of desktop security are quite common these days and you need to take proper precautionary measures to thwart your unknown attackers. Here is a list of symptoms that indicate your machine has been invaded by any one of the current crop of viruses or other intruders. Having any of these symptoms is not necessarily the end of the world. But any combination of them could be a cause for real concern.

The common signs to ascertain whether your desktop security has been breached are:

  • The homepage of your browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Google Chrome, etc.) changes suddenly, and you have no idea how it happened.
  • You suddenly notice an extra toolbar or two in your browser. The unfortunate part is, you didn’t install them. Toolbar breaches usually are of a wide variety, coming in many forms and under different names.
  • Your firewall alerts you of an unknown programme trying to access the Internet. This usually means something has already bypassed your defenses and you need to take immediate action, and in many cases most infections rarely travel alone.
  • New shortcuts appear on your desktop, your taskbar, or even on your system tray, which you did not add nor do you know what they are. Nine times out of ten, these programmes are rogue applications that work to divulge your confidential information to potential attackers.
  • New entries start appearing in your ‘Favourites’ folder, which you have not added.
  • Your computer starts acting sluggish, with massive load on the processor.
  • Pop-ups appear in large numbers out of nowhere.
  • There is a new programme or multiple new programmes in the Add/Remove Programmes section of your control panel.
  • You are unable to access any of these: Task Manager, Registry Editor, MSCONFIG, Control Panel, Run Command, etc.
  • Your computer is sending out large amounts of ‘packets’ or using excessive bandwidth.

To protect yourself, your security systems should be regularly updated and you should be alert enough to notice any changes in your machine as soon as they occur.