Why Your Computer is Running Slowly?

Worried about slow computers in your office? This could be a sign of underlying major problems.

Fast and efficient computers are a must in today’s digital economy. Almost all staff in every organization today have their own computer or workstation.

A study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Crucial found that US adults waste an average of 16 minutes each day waiting for their computer to load or boot up. This waste of time is equivalent to 2 hours each week and 4 days per year lost as a result of a slow computer.

If you’ve been using a slow computer for the past 10 years, you might have wasted more than a month waiting for your computer to load up, open applications or shut down.

“A slow computer is not only wasting valuable time that could be put towards improved health, but it is also a source of immense frustration and constant stress, two things that are never good for anyone’s health,” said Kathy Kaehler, author, celebrity trainer and fitness/lifestyle expert.

A study conducted by Dimensional Research and commissioned by AppSense (PDF) showed that 83% of workers are distracted when computers are slow. Millennials are mostly distracted by slow computers (28%), followed by Gen X (16%) and Baby Boomers (6%).

While waiting for slow computers, workers tend to do the following activities:

  • Get a drink or visit the restroom: 45% of Baby Boomers, 56% of Gen X, and 55% of Millennials
  • Chat with a co-worker: 36% of Baby Boomers, 43% of Gen X, and 45% of Millennials
  • Make a personal call, play a game, go on Facebook or do other personal activities: 8% of Baby Boomers, 21% of Gen X, and 28% of Millennials

Slow computer, however, is merely a manifestation of bigger problems. One of the top reasons why your office computers are slow is because of a malware.

What is a Malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, is a computer program that’s specifically created to gain access to a computer system without authorization for the purpose of disrupting the computer operation or steal sensitive data.

Most of the malware programs proliferating on the internet today are designed to discreetly install themselves and work undetected in the background. Oftentimes, the only sign that a computer is infected by a malware is slow performance.

Cryptocurrency-themed malware like Adylkuzz and Coinhive are examples of malware that discreetly install themselves, work undetected in the background and result in computer slow performance.

Adylkuzz and Coinhive specifically install a code that initiates mining of Monero, a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin, on the victim’s computer. Both Monero and Bitcoin are cryptocurrencies that require mining, a process in which transactions are verified and a digital coin is released. Cryptocurrency miners – the people who expressly allow their computers to be used for cryptocurrency mining – are given a fair share (portion of the digital coin).

In the past, Bitcoin can be mined using ordinary computers. Today, only high-powered computers are capable of mining Bitcoin. Monero, on the other hand, can be mined using ordinary computers and even smartphones.

Adylkuzz and Coinhive malware perform their mining operations in the background and users of compromised computers are unlikely to notice their presence. Cryptocurrency mining, however, is CPU intensive. Leaving cryptocurrency mining operation on your computer can lead to slow performance. According to security firm Check Point, cryptocurrency mining malware can fraudulently use up to 65% of an end-user’s total CPU resources without the end-user’s approval.

Attackers spread the Adylkuzz malware by scanning the internet and looking for computers that are vulnerable to “EternalBlue”, a known vulnerability in Windows operating system. This same vulnerability was exploited by WannaCry ransomware.

While the purpose of WannaCry ransomware is to extort ransom money – to be paid in Bitcoin, the purpose of Adylkuzz malware is to mine Monero cryptocurrency.

Coinhive, on the other hand, is spread via compromised websites. In September 2017, attackers successfully planted Coinhive malware on Showtime websites – showtime.com and showtimeanytime.com. A security researcher also found over 2,000 online stores laden with Coinhive malware.

It’s unlikely that owners of these online stores and Showtime authorized the planting of this malware on their websites. Following public exposure, the Coinhive code has since been removed from Showtime websites.

A visit to any of these Coinhive-compromised websites will result in the installation of the Monero mining code on your computer. As discovered by security firm Malwarebytes, closing the browser doesn’t necessarily close the cryptocurrency mining operation.

According to Malwarebytes, attackers found a way to continue using your computer for cryptocurrency mining even when the browser is closed by concealing the browser under the taskbar’s clock. This still operational browser can be viewed by resizing the taskbar.

Candid Wuest, a security researcher at security firm Symantec, told the BBC that there’s been a huge spike in cryptocurrency-theme malware like Coinhive as a result of the rapid increase in Bitcoin’s value.

As of December 12, 2017, the price of Bitcoin is $17,000. Cybercriminals can easily convert Monero coins into Bitcoin in cryptocurrency exchanges that allow anonymity.

Malware is just one of the reasons why your office computers are running slow. Other reasons for your office computers’ slow performance include aging hardware, lack of disk space and slow software.

Malware Preventive Measures

Keeping your computer operating system up-to-date is one of the effective means of protecting your computer from malware like Adylkuzz.

In March 2017, Microsoft released a security update fixing the EternalBlue vulnerability. A simple update of your Windows operating system, therefore, can leave your computer safe from Adylkuzz and other malware like WannaCry.

“Keeping your computers up-to-date gives you the benefits of the latest features and proactive mitigations built into the latest versions of Windows,” Microsoft said.

At GenX, we offer a complete cyber security solution, including:

  • Firewall with customized configuration and rules
  • Intrusion prevention
  • Threat detection and response
  • Website tracking and filtering
  • Anti-virus

We also offer other IT services, including:

  • Updating aging hardware in a company’s IT back office
  • Increase of company disk size, for increased storage capability
  • Cloud storage and secure backup

You don’t have to fight the malware alone, our team of experts is available to help you clean the infected computers, and protect it going forward. Call us today and forget about the IT problems.

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