Signs Your Computer Has Been Hacked
Published: April 25, 2022
It's no secret that hackers don't want their victims to know what they've been up to. Just because everything seems fine, doesn't mean that's actually the case. Who knows, there could be a hacker watching you right now. You know what they say, it's better safe than sorry. Today we'll be looking at some clear signs that your computer has been hacked, and what you can do to prevent them.
Passwords Aren't Working
Let's say you've suddenly been denied access to your computer. It's either you're forgetful, or it's been hacked. A device could have been broken into by a hacker who's changed your account's login details, including passwords. It can get worse, and information from a hacked retailer, bank account, or web merchant could be comprised. Many people don't even know they've been hacked until they get notified by their bank. Be vigilant and look out for online activity or purchases you haven't authorized.
One of the most soul-crushing things you can see on your computer screen is an abrupt take-over message saying that your data is encrypted and demanding payment to unlock it. This is known as Ransomware. Billions of dollars in productivity are lost in ransom payments every year. In small businesses, large businesses, police stations, hospitals, over 50% of victims give in. Many victims have to suffer through days of downtime and recovery steps even if they do pay the ransom. If you've got a reliable tested data backup of the impacted systems, you can restore the involved systems to make sure recovery is 100%.
Unwanted Browser Toolbars
A common sign of exploitation is when your browser has multiple new toolbars with names that seem to indicate that it's supposed to help you. Unless you recognize that it came from a well-known vendor, it's in your best interest to dump it. Most browsers let you review installed and active toolbars. When in doubt, remove it. You can usually delete bogus toolbars by ensuring all your software is fully patched and knowing the licensing agreement, where installation guidelines are found.
Antivirus and Antimalware Software
If you don't have any security software, it's best to install a firewall and reliable antivirus software and keep them up to date. These programs identify the latest threats and allow a user to remove malicious software from their computer. Make sure you do your research before installing anything and beware of scams that try to lure you into disclosing any personal information, or try to direct you to download programs that might contain malware.