Stay cybersecure. At home. At UCalgary

Oct. 29, 2021

Cybersecurity: How do you know if you’re infected?

We're coming to the end of Cybersecurity Awareness Month but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down

If you have been following our Cybersecurity Awareness Month features, we have outlined several ways you can protect yourself and your data online.

(Did you miss our webinar, Staying Cybersafe: Working, Sharing and Being Social Online? Fear not, you can watch a recording.)

Knowing how to avoid cybersecurity threats is only half the battle. What if you’re already infected? How would you know if you were? Here’s a list of symptoms that may mean your device has been compromised, and what you can do to fix it.

Common signs of infection

  • Slow startup and/or slow performance, without reason. In this case, there may be hidden processes running in the background, taking up your processing power.
  • Internet browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, etc., closing on their own or crashing often.
  • Your computer freezing or crashing often (or you see the dreaded “blue screen of death”).
  • Problems shutting down or restarting.
  • Frequent or constant browser pop-ups.
  • Browser redirects.
  • Spam/phishing emails in your Sent folder that you did not send.
  • Messages on social media that you did not send.
  • File names changed/missing files.
  • New programs or toolbars you don’t remember installing on your computer or browser.
  • Your preferences have been changed (default browser, search engine, etc.).
  • The task manager (found on both Microsoft Windows and Apple OS) shows a large amount of processing power and memory space being used up by a single task.
  • Your antivirus program is disabled.
  • Unexpected password changes.
  • Missing funds/payments to an unknown recipient.
  • Ransomware messages.

Best practices

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, we recommend ensuring your computer has up-to-date anti-virus/malware software installed. All UCalgary computers that are managed by central IT, both on campus and distributed to those working from home, have anti-virus software installed. Please contact UService at, or 403-210-9300 if you suspect your UCalgary device might be infected.

Note to users who have personal Microsoft Windows computers at home: Windows 10 has a fully integrated anti-virus/anti-malware software that runs in the background automatically and can be used to scan your personal device. Here are some tips from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security: How to evaluate anti-virus software (and choose the right one for you) – Get Cyber Safe.

It is also a great idea to keep backups of your data in the event of data corruption or a ransomware attack. (Ransomware is when your data is stolen, or you are locked out of your machine until you pay to get access back.) By creating and maintaining physical and cloud-based backups, you ensure that you have secondary copies of your data outside the reach of hackers.

Remember, the best way to deal with an infection is by preventing it in the first place. Catch up with our article, What’s in your cybersecurity tool kit for tips and tricks to help you remain cybersafe all year round.

UCalgary will never directly ask you for any personal information or passwords. Anyone who claims to be IT and asks for any personal information is phishing. Please report all phishing attacks to UService at or 403-210-9300.

Follow us on twitter @ucalgary_it for more helpful cybersecurity advice.