I'm wondering if anything atypical of your computer can be a headsup for a virus/malware infection?

If all of a sudden my sound panel is acting funny, can it be a sign of a virus? If I suddenly can't seem to highlight things with my cursor, could it be a virus?

What are some common and uncommon behaviors for infected computers?

Pornographic popups are usually a red flag.


6 Answers 6


I have never seen anything go wrong with sound panels that would tell me a virus was to blame - although if you say the actual symptoms, it may help.

Typically with me it is-

  1. Random high CPU utilisation
  2. Random events
  3. Random popups
  4. Hearing a lot of noise from hard drive when computer should be idle.
  5. Anything else random or the opposite to what I am expecting in a certain situation.
  • While I agree with the list, I think 5 might come across wrong to people not as familiar with their computers as yourself. Many times I've had friends or family call and say, "I think I have a virus" — when in fact, no, they just unplugged their keyboard by mistake.
    – emgee
    Oct 29, 2009 at 16:33

apart from the more obvious (popups to register rogue software, blocked system settings), unsolicited network traffic and sluggish system performance are usually indicators for a malware attack.


Well, most of them will use CPU/HDD/Internet connection, so any suspicious increase in usage of those is sure a good sign. And I think that thats about it, most viruses will try to hide themselves as much as possible, so there shouldn't be any blinking popups windows or any other obviously strange behaviour...

  • 1
    Oh, and denied access to Windows Update, or web sites of AV companies are good sign that you may want to get a better AV.
    – sYnfo
    Oct 29, 2009 at 15:45

Another one is if you notice you can't view hidden files anymore. The autorun viruses often turn off viewing hidden files, and if you enable viewing them again, they change it back.


Some viruses also create exe files in places where there shouldn't be any. This can range from the obscure (e.g. in your windows or system32 folders) to the obvious (extra exe files in every folder in some of your partitions).


Strange behavior is as often the result of badly written drivers and worse freeware more so than it is badly written viruses.

That said, random hard-drive use may actually be the OS or an indexer doing stuff specifically when your computer is not busy.

Random network traffic used to be a good sign, but these days rootkits will stay fairly dormant until some point much later. When they do start sending spam on behalf of their new masters you might not even notice the extra traffic, and ISPs seem to have given up calling their clients.

Settings that change themselves back shortly after you change them, or when you reboot could have been a sign, but now some programs are just that badly written. Though OS settings should never behave this way.

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