Has My Computer Been Hacked? How to Know and What to Do!
In today’s technology-driven world, computer hacking is rife. In fact, it’s reached an all-time high, with a hacker attack taking place every 39-seconds across the globe.
To add to this, computer hacking has now overtaken the illegal drug trade in its revenue generation. The cybercrime industry is set to rack up a rather hefty bill of over $6 trillion by 2021. With these mindboggling numbers in mind, what can you do to protect yourself against cybercrime?
If you ever find yourself wondering ”has my computer been hacked?”, here’s what to look out for and the immediate steps to take after.
Has My Computer Been Hacked? 7 Tell-Tale Signs You Should Know
If you’ve owned your computer for a decent amount of time, you should be able to tell when something isn’t right. For example, your computer may be performing differently, acting up more than usual, or your internet browsing has gone awry.
With the state of computer hacking today, you should be hyper-aware of any changes in computer function, no matter how minor they may seem. Here’s what to look out for, in particular:
1. Your PC Is Hot and Sluggish
This is one of the very first signs that a virus could be affecting your computer. A virus has the same effect on humans — we develop a temperature and become bogged down by fatigue. This makes it easy to remember these two side-effects when it comes to computer hacking.
Malware is devastating to a computer. It eats up your system resources by intentionally running them dry. This is what creates computer lag. As your computer works overtime to try and handle unwanted malware, it will begin to overheat.
This overheating can cause internal and mechanical components to malfunction and even melt. The result could mean a whole new computer or laptop. Luckily, you can find decent new laptop pricing here.
2. Your Data Usage Has Suddenly Increased
When your computer has been infected with adware, this can cause your data usage to increase at a rate of knots. This is because adware causes your computer to perform unsolicited clicks in the background while generating profits for hackers.
As a result, these background tactics drive up your bandwidth and data usage, without you even noticing. If you have your suspicions, you can check your data usage to make a comparison.
Visit your internet provider’s portal and assess your bandwidth usage by reading the Data Usage Meter. Compare data usage to previous months, and remember that small fluctuations are normal. If you notice sudden spikes in data usage, this is a sign of computer hacking.
3. Videos and Webpages Just Won’t Load
A fair amount of buffering of videos and web pages is completely normal. This is sometimes caused by a dip in connectivity and is nothing to really worry about. This may also happen if you’re in a region with weak service or Wi-Fi connection.
But when video and web page buffering becomes far too commonplace, or they fail to load at all, this is cause for concern. You want to be aware of the fact that someone (a hacker) could be piggy-backing on your connection.
Another cause of this is DNS hijacking. This is a process where hackers redirect your internet connection to unsafe servers, which slows down and even stalls your internet browsing. A tell-tale sign of DNS hijacking is when your internet pages are re-directed to completely different URLs (page addresses).
4. Your Computer Programs Begin to Crash
In some cases, a computer program or app may crash or have to restart when it’s overloaded. This is relatively normal, albeit super frustrating. But when your computer programs begin to crash on a regular basis, for no good reason, this is a sign of hacking in the form of a computer virus.
An especially important sign to look out for is when your antivirus software or task manager begins to crash. Your computer is most likely infected with malware that takes hold of your computer files and programs.
5. You’re Being Inundated With Pop-up Ads
Ah, the pop-up ad. We all know them — annoying, garish, and sometimes hard to get rid of. Yes, pop-up ads may have their place on the internet, but when they begin to affect your browsing experience, this is yet another red flag.
When malware infects your computer, it can bookmark certain web pages, create shortcuts you don’t want, generate spammy messages, and force pop-up ads on you. This, in turn, slows down your computer and also eats into your data usage.
It’s important to be hyper-aware of this type of malware and never click on any pop-ups or spammy messages. This can only make the situation even worse!
6. Your Computer Begins to Restart Without Prompt
An automatic restart is part of the update and installation process, but your computer should prompt you beforehand. It should never just restart on its own. So if your computer starts to reboot itself without your permission, this is a sign of hacking.
7. Unusual Online Activity That You Can’t Account for
One of the most common forms of hacking is the infiltration of personal online accounts. This could include banking profiles, social media accounts, email accounts, and more. All a hacker needs is your username and to figure out your password, which is usually done in no time.
If you cannot account for certain acts of online behavior, this is a sign of hacking. Keep a close watch on your sent folders and your social media profile posts. Suspicious emails and posts that you don’t remember sending or creating are tell-tale signs of infiltration.
Be vigilant with your online banking profile and make sure to check your bank statements for any suspicious activity.
Crucial Steps to Take After Computer Hacking
Uncovering a computer hack can be a daunting experience. Is there any way to minimize the damage that could already be done? It’s important to keep calm and not panic. Here are the most important first steps you must take:
1. Rethink and Reset All Your Passwords
This may seem like a tedious task, especially if you have multiple online accounts. But it’s a very important step so as to minimize the fallout as much as possible. Important places to focus on password resetting are all of your social media accounts, email accounts, bank accounts, online shopping accounts, and any device login details.
2. Immediately Log Out
Once all your passwords have been re-considered and reset, you must log out of all your accounts. Make sure to turn off any settings that allow for immediate login, with the need for a password.
3. Cut off Your Internet Connection
The next important step is to cut off any internet access to your computer/laptop and any other devices. It’s best to turn off your Wi-Fi router if you have one and switch all devices to airplane mode.
4. Remove External and Computer Hard Drives
You want to minimize a hacker’s access to any other devices and portals of information as much as possible. So if you have any type of external hard drive plugged into your computer, be sure to remove it immediately.
You may want to remove the hard drive from your computer, too. Just be sure to back-up your most important data first, whether you save it in a secure Google Drive account, in the cloud, or email small files to yourself.
5. Wipe Your Hard Drive Completely
This step is only necessary if you run a malware scan on your computer and it reveals a virus or a hack on the actual device, itself. If this is the case, it’s probably best to wipe your hard drive completely and re-install your operating system.
Bear in mind that wiping your hard drive means you will permanently erase all data from it. So be sure to backup all important information and files, first!
6. Let Your Contacts Know
The reality is that a hack is not always limited to just you. It can affect nearly everyone in your contacts list, too. So if you’ve been hacked in some way, you want to notify everyone in your contact list to be hyper-vigilant of hacking scams that could be doing the rounds.
7. Keep a Watchful Eye on All Your Accounts
Once you have identified a computer or account hack, you must keep a close eye on all of your accounts, even if they have not been infiltrated. This way, you can keep track of the extent of the hack and try and minimize the fall out.
Be sure to check your email, social media, online banking, and online shopping accounts regularly for several weeks.
Are You a Tech and Travel Lover?
If you ever have your suspicions and find yourself wondering ”has my computer been hacked?”, we hope this blog has taught you a little more about what to be aware of. In today’s day and age, you put yourself at risk by just being online. The best way to arm yourself against cyber threats is with knowledge!
If you’re an avid technology and travel fan, then the rest of this website is your go-to. Explore our page for all things tech, social media, online marketing, gadgets, travel hacks, and more.