Gina Parsons Consulting

Possible Symptoms of a Compromised Computer

Is your machine:

Slow or non-responsive?
Experiencing unexpected behavior?
Running programs that you weren’t expecting?
Showing signs of high level of activity to the hard drive that is not a result of anything you initiated?
Displaying messages on your screen that you haven’t seen before?
Running out of disk space unexpectedly?
Unable to run a program because you don’t have enough memory—and this hasn’t happened before?
Program constantly crashing?
Rejecting a valid and correctly entered password?

Is your organization:

Finding all of its e-mail refused (bounced back)?
No longer receiving any email or visitors to your web site?
Experiencing a number of employees calling the help desk saying their password doesn’t work anymore?
Receiving complaints from the system administrators that their passwords don’t work anymore?
Getting complains from your users that the network has slow response time?
Finding there are new processes running on the web server?

Security Breaches

Security breaches can take several forms,. The best defense against breaches are conscientious and alert users. You are the most important person for early detection and prevention.

Examples of breaches include:

Damage to equipment, facilities or utilities Loss or misplacement of media (disks, tapes, paper) containing confidential information.
Inappropriate use of the computing environment.
Unauthorized access or attempted unauthorized access to information or computing resources.

If you discover a security breach, you should report the breach to your security person or manager immediately.

Malicious Code Protection

Malicious code can take forms such as a virus, worm or Trojan. It can hide behind an infected web page or disguise itself in a downloadable file, screensaver or e-mail attachment.

  • Viruses - are programs that spread or self-replicate. They require interaction from someone to be activated .
  • Worms - are similar to viruses because they self-replicate, however they do not require any user interaction to be activated. Worms spread because of vulnerabilities or “holes” in software.
  • Trojans - (also known as backdoors) are malicious code hidden in a legitimate program that when executed performs some unauthorized activity or function. This can range from stealing your password and credit card information to allowing someone to take control of your computer.


Email messages that resemble chain letters, offer free money, or contain dire warning and offers that seem to be too good to be true. If you receive a hoax via email, delete it. Sharing hoaxes slows down mail servers and may be a cover for a hidden virus or worm.

Software Updates and "Patch Management"

When flaws are discovered and publicized, the software vendor rushes to produce and distribute (at no charge) an update, or "patch" that can be applied to the program to fix the problem. Unfortunately, many people never to bother to download and install the updates. so their computers remain vulnerable even when there has been an update that has been available for more that a year. Keeping your operating system and application software current and up-to-date is a critical part of making your computer as secure as possible.

Mobile Computing Security

Computers are now accessible via a variety of means. A person can even download data from the Internet to a cell phone. While convenient and fun to use some good practices will help protect your information. Laptops, PDA's and Cell Phones are more easily stolen or misplaced because of their size. Remember if your laptop is gone, your data is too. Small computer devices carry information that must be protected.

Wireless Security

Wireless networks and laptops are very popular for their ease of use and portability. The Internet can be reached via ration waves without having to plug your machine into the network. It is with the same ease of connecting that malicious individuals connect to unprotected networks. Attackers conduct drive-by eavesdropping, called "war driving" to listen in on unsecured devices in homes and businesses.

Computer security awareness is everyone's responsibility - take notice, react, and prevent problems. There is no Security without "YOU!"

Gina Parsons Consulting © 2015