How to Tell if Your Computer Has Been Hacked

By November 13, 2017 Security

It seems that barely a month goes by without a major global cybersecurity attack hitting the headlines. However, what you don’t tend to hear about in the news are the countless smaller data breaches affecting businesses and individuals every day.

There’s no doubt that the cyber threat landscape is constantly changing, with hackers taking advantage of lucrative new scams and exploits. However, despite the very real threat facing businesses today, most computer problems are not a result of a data breach or a virus.

That’s why it’s important to be able to identify the signs that a computer has been compromised.

#1. Fake Antivirus Messages Appear

Although rogue antivirus software isn’t quite as prevalent as it used to be, the sudden appearance of strange messages claiming that your computer is infected is a sure sign it’s been compromised. Fake antivirus warnings and other messages may also appear in the form of popups on malicious websites.

These rogue programs rely on a sense of fear and urgency they instill in victims, with the aim of compelling them to pay money to fix the alleged problem. Legitimate antivirus software will also display warnings, of course, but they are usually easy to tell apart.

#2. Internet Searches Are Redirected

Many hackers and scammers rely on redirecting your browser to a malicious website or trying to encourage you to click on a link or a malicious download. Others will try to get you to surrender confidential information.

If your homepage has inexplicably changed or your search queries redirect you to an unknown search engine or website, then you can be sure that your computer has been infected.

Fortunately, many of these infections are not particularly severe, and may be caused by adware packaged with an otherwise legitimate program.

#3. A Ransom Message Appears

With this year’s WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks making headlines all over the world, there’s no doubt that extortion has become the latest theme in the cybersecurity scene.

A ransom message appearing when you turn on your computer is a sure sign that your files have been or are in the process of being encrypted. If this happens, you should never pay the ransom, since there is no guarantee that you will be able to regain access to your files anyway. Instead, you’ll need to completely wipe the computer and restore a recent backup.

#4. Your Passwords Stop Working

Forgetting login credentials is one of the most common computer-related problems of all. However, if you’re confident that you know your password, and you have tried to enter it several times, there is a possibility that someone may have hijacked your account. This often happens when a victim responds to an authentic-looking phishing scam by unwittingly providing a hacker with their password.

If this happens, you’ll need to regain control over your account as soon as possible and change the passwords for any other accounts that share the same login credentials.

#5. The Mouse Moves by Itself

It might be alarming if a mouse pointer suddenly starts moving around by itself, but if the movements are random, then you can be almost certain it’s a hardware error.

However, if the pointer makes logical selections and your computer appears to have a mind of its own, then it’s certain that someone is accessing your desktop remotely.

While remote desktop software is common in the workplace for providing support to end users, you’ll want to be sure that the actions are legitimate rather than the result of a hacker gaining full access to your system.

Proactive cybersecurity should always be at the forefront of any business IT strategy, but no amount of training and technology will make you completely immune. That’s why every business should also have a robust disaster recovery strategy. If you’re looking for a cloud-based solution that will keep your data safe, call Truewater today.

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Truewater was established in 2001 with the vision of bringing enterprise class IT support to small and medium sized businesses.