â€œI got hackedâ€ is a common thing these days. Whether it’s someone mistakenly referring to an accidental malware infection, or trying to revert to an unfortunate social media post, the term comes up a lot.
However, hacking is a real danger for modern users of devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets. There is an entire underground of so-called “black hat” hackers who profit from exploiting vulnerabilities in systems and human psychology. Identity theft and outright theft of funds are two common causes of these criminal hackers.
The problem is, knowing you’ve been hacked can be tricky. This doesn’t mean there is a big flashing red light for you to know. This is why you should be aware of the general signs that something is wrong in your digital world. So, here are the signs that you are the hapless victim of a hack.
The hacker tells you
We start with the most obvious sign that you have been hacked, which is that someone disguised as a hacker approaches you and forces them to say so.
This could be direct message, email, or malware such as ransomware. Either way, a hacker will usually tell you that he has compromised you and then provide some evidence. This will then be followed by some kind of demand, often money in the form of a payment in cryptocurrency.
What should you do? The first thing you should know is that just because someone says they’ve managed to hack you doesn’t mean they are. One recent trick is to contact a person via email and then show them that they have a password for a specific account.
What actually happens here is that the scammer pulled out an old password and hopes to scare you into giving him money or something really useful. If they did have access to your account, they would demonstrate it in a specific way (for example, encrypt your entire computer).
So, log in to the appropriate account, change your password and, if possible, activate two-factor authentication. Also, if any other accounts use a password that threatened you, change them immediately. Then forget about it. Also, never give money to these people, it will not help you, it will only cheer them up.
If the threat is real, contact your service provider and tell them that your account has been hacked. If you’ve been the victim of a ransomware that encrypts your data and asks for money, cut your losses. Wipe down the machine and restore data from backups. You should also store your most important information in something like Dropbox, which allows you to rollback any changes over an extended window period.
You cannot log in
One of the first signs that you have been hacked is when your credentials stop working. You have rechecked, but you cannot login. Strange, isn’t it? Well, this is a pretty obvious sign that someone has the keys to your kingdom, and this can be a very serious situation.
What should you do? The correct course of action here depends on several things. You should immediately initiate a password reset and, if possible, change it. Then, if the service offers it, activate two-factor authentication. This means you will have to enter an additional one-time code from your phone or email, but this is a very effective way to prevent hacking.
If your main email account has been hacked and you haven’t configured any backup options before this happened, you need to contact your service provider immediately so they can pause the account and then verify your identity. P>
Activity was not you
Are your friends texting you because of something you posted on Twitter? Has your online character suddenly sent your boss some content very similar to NSFW?
This is a clear sign that your account has been hijacked. You can follow exactly the same advice as in the paragraph above, but also be sure to post a notification apologizing for the content and abandoning yourself on your social media accounts.
Your browser is revolting
Did you notice something strange when you open your browser? Your regular home page is nowhere to be seen. Instead, there’s some weird new search engine sitting there, waiting for you like an unnecessary frog in the bathroom. You’re trying to enter a search term into the address bar, but it all just redirects you to this weird new site. When you try to visit your regular websites, the address and site don’t look as they should. What’s happening?
This is a common technique that hackers use with malware and is called browser hijacking . Your browser has been jailbroken and you can no longer trust it. Often, when hijacking your browser, you are taken to fake versions of websites that are controlled by the hacker that created the malware. They can then retrieve your data and access other sites such as online banking services using your name.
Sometimes the goal is simply to turn your car into a mill of advertising money. Advertisements will appear and clicked automatically. Play the system and make money for these advertisers. Whatever the reason, this is a very bad situation!
What should you do? First, you must remove all software added to the system since the problem occurred. You should also search for any apps you don’t remember and uninstall them.
This is usually not enough to fix the problem, so after the normal removal process is complete, you need to use a malware removal tool like Malwarebytes to fix the infection.
Your device is acting weird
The above signs are pretty obvious, but often the compromise of your device is a little more subtle. If your computer is consistently slow and running at full capacity, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Is your phone battery draining much faster? Does the mouse pointer move on its own, or do applications open and close without any action? Have things suddenly turned off, like your antivirus?
These and other similar signs point to outside interference when a hacker gains control of your system in some way. Scary, isn’t it?
What should you do? First of all, disconnect this device from the Internet! If someone is actively sending him commands, disabling that access is the first step. Second, if you can, run antivirus and antivirus software.
However, the best option is probably a factory reset, or a complete wipe and reinstall of that system. You might even want to have the device cleaned by a technician to make sure there is nothing left on it that could open the hacker’s window again.
Lights up your webcam when not in use
Have you ever seen pictures of people in front of a computer with a small piece of tape pasted onto their webcam? This is because webcam hacking is surprisingly common and the last thing you want is to be spied on! If you notice your webcam activity light comes on when you are not using it, be very suspicious!
What should you do? Again, we want to run malware and antivirus software. You will also want to know if your webcam make and model has received a driver or firmware update, which may contain a fix to address any security flaws that hackers find.
If you have a webcam that can be turned off or disconnected, you should only turn it on while in use. If you have a built-in camera, it’s good that the sticky tape strategy isn’t a bad option.
Check if you are the victim of a data breach
When the large (or small) companies that hold your data are compromised, it can take years before that information is used against you. Often, companies don’t even know that this has happened until the stolen data is put up for sale. Luckily, you can head over to Have I Been Pwned, which maintains a searchable database of all known data leaks.
By simply entering your email address, you can see if you have been compromised. If you are a victim, change all of your passwords. In fact, you can use a password manager that automatically generates unique strong passwords for you.
While the web is full of dubious people who want to target ordinary people for personal gain, you don’t have to put up with it lying down. If you pay attention and practice a good safety approach, you can often contain a situation before serious damage is done!