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    Signs You’ve Been Hacked and What to Do

    11 November, 2020
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    Today, the threat level for hacking is higher than ever before. Even with anti-hacking software in place, and all of the right security, malicious hackers still manage to penetrate the protective systems in place. Hackers often succeed because they are continually changing their tactics, which means that it can be extremely difficult to protect your systems. 

    The truth is that smart hackers don’t get caught. That’s the reality of the situation. They break into your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, taking whatever key data they can, and leave without a trace. Sometimes though, after an attack, you may notice a small trail of disruption has been left behind, hinting at the fact that something is off. 

    Signs could include malware, unsolicited advertisements, confused friends and family on social media, or more obvious: a drained bank account or a stolen identity. Maybe your password isn’t working properly, or you have received a ransomware message, or you keep getting random pop-ups.

    Through expertise, they can break into a supposedly secure system without causing immediate issues. While hackers are continually working to break into devices or social media accounts, it’s important not to panic. 

    So, if the signs that you’ve been hacked aren’t always easy to spot, how do you know if you have been the target of hackers in order to lock them back out? 

    Your Password Won’t Work 

    You’ve typed your password correctly, but it just won’t work—this is a sign that you may have been hacked. It could also be a system glitch, but if you don’t find any notifications for a systems update, and you find your password still won’t work after 30 minutes, then the chances are that you’ve been hacked and your password changed. 

    Are you wondering how this has happened? Usually, this kind of issue occurs after you open and respond to a phishing email by mistake. The hacker uses this to collect your information and is then able to change your password. 

    What can you do? Make sure to contact all of your contacts to let them know that you’ve been hacked and your account was compromised. 

    Your Online Search Gets Redirected 

    You’re searching for something, such as “baking flour,” but you notice that a website for something completely unrelated pops up. This is a sign that your search is being redirected. To be sure, search for something else, and see whether the random website pops up again—if it does, then you know you have been hacked. 

    The first step to fixing, or mitigating the problem, is to search your computer for malware and any suspicious files. Once you’ve done that, you can then remove those files from your device. Not sure how to deal with the issue? Speak to an IT specialist who can help. 

    You Find Ransomware 

    One of the worst things you can ever see on a device screen is a ransomware message appearing along with a screen takeover, telling you that your data has been encrypted, and to get access back, you need to make a payment. This is the digital version of being held ransom. 

    What can you do? If you have a recent backup of the information, simply restore the system and change all of your passwords before restoring a backup. This should deal with the issue. A word to the wise, if you don’t have a backup yet, make one now. It’s also worth testing your backup beforehand to make sure that it will work should you need it to. 

    You Notice Frequent, Random Pop-Ups 

    If you start noticing that you see frequent random pop-ups, this might be a sign that you’ve been hacked. When you’re noticing random pop-ups from websites that don’t usually have pop-ups, this is a sign that your system has been compromised. 

    What can you do? To stop the problem, you will need to get rid of the toolbar, causing them or any other malicious programs or files. Not sure how to do this yourself? Consult an IT specialist who can help—or if you have a managed cybersecurity company you work with, contact them. 

    Social Media Messages You Didn’t Send 

    You’ve been contacted by a friend who has said they’ve received a message on social media from you that seemed a little strange. You check the message, and sure enough, there’s a message sent that you didn’t write or send. 

    What steps do you take? Let all of your contacts know what happened. Then, contact the social media platform that the issue has occurred on. Change your password and login details entirely to help prevent the same problem from occurring again. 

    Your Mouse Moves and Selects Outside Your Control

    You’re sitting on your computer when you notice that the mouse moves on its own and selects different things without you doing anything. If this is the case, then you have been hacked. 

    What can you do? If you feel comfortable, watch what the hackers are looking at. Take screenshots or photos or film the movements so that you can determine where their interest lies. Then, turn the computer off, unplug the power and disconnect the internet before calling professionals. 

    To help protect yourself from being hacked, it’s essential to make sure that you use long passwords with characters, numbers, and letters, change your passwords regularly, have adequate malware protection in place, and report any suspicious activity to your IT specialist. 

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