Have you ever had your computer hacked? So that you don’t panic, whatever happens, here are 10 signs that you may have been hacked and some simple ways to deal with them.
This article is a translation of an article on Welivesecurity, an information site about malware and security operated by ESET.
Global cybercrime costs trillions of dollars each year. Most of the damage is due to misjudgment of users. Mistakes like clicking a phishing link or forgetting to update an important software. This would also apply if you don’t have multi-factor authentication (MFA) set up. Criminals attack in a variety of ways. There is no limit to the amount of personal information that can be exploited for attacks, and there are countless underground sites for buying and selling stolen data, tools and criminal services.
It’s never too early to notice an information leak. The longer you notice it, the more damage it will cause. So, it makes sense to spend some time on preventative measures. Last year, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) received more than 847,000 cybercrime reports from businesses and consumers, resulting in $7 billion in damages.
Top signs that your computer may have been hacked
Attackers carry out attacks in secret. Covert behavior is the nature of the attack, and if the victim is unaware, it buys the attacker time to infiltrate the network and monetize their online accounts.
In order to quickly notice the damage of cybercrime, it is necessary to pay close attention to even the slightest signs.
I get a ransomware message
Let’s start with the obvious signs. If you see a ransom demanding message instead of the normal message when you boot up your computer, it’s likely that you’ve been hit by ransomware. In many cases, the payment period is short and instructions are provided for payment in digital currency. Unfortunately, even if you follow the instructions, you can’t expect to gain access to a maliciously encrypted file 1 in 3 chances.
Computer slows down
When malware is installed on your computer, it can slow things down. Malware such as Trojan horses, worms, and cryptocurrency miners are typical examples. In particular, crypto jacking attacks, which require a large amount of computational processing and power to mine cryptographic assets, have a noticeable impact. It’s not limited to malicious attacks, such as when your computer is in a bad state, but it’s a good idea to check if there are any problems.
Webcam turns on by itself
Spyware installed by attackers is used not only to steal data from computers, but also to covertly activate webcams and microphones. Cybercriminals film and steal videos of users and their families for subsequent blackmail. You should keep an eye on your webcam lights to see if they are moving on their own. It is also effective to completely hide the web camera by covering it with a bandage or the like.
A friend receives an unknown message from your account
Another telltale sign that your computer has been compromised is when friends and acquaintances report receiving spam messages from your email or social media accounts. Hijacking a target’s account and sending spam or phishing emails to all their friends is a typical phishing attack technique. A risk that can be easily mitigated by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Too many pop-up ads appearing on your screen
Adware displays a large number of advertisements to the victim and generates revenue for the attacker. If your computer is filled with pop-up ads, it’s likely that you’ve installed malicious code or unwanted software somewhere.
A new toolbar appears in your web browser
Some malware adds additional toolbars to web browsers. If you see a strange toolbar that you don’t remember downloading, it suggests that your computer may have been hacked. If you have been infected with malware by an APT (Persistent Targeted Attack) group, you will have to reset your computer to factory settings to remove it. A PUA (an application that isn’t necessarily malicious, but can negatively affect your computer’s performance) might not be as big of a deal. In this case, just remove the app or toolbar.
A stranger icon is added
When malware is installed on your computer, it may add new icons to your desktop. It’s easy to notice when your desktop is usually organized and the number of files, folders, and programs displayed is small. Consider decluttering your desktop a bit so you can see the icons on your computer.
My password or login doesn’t work
Attackers who infiltrate a computer can hijack various online accounts, including email. Change the password and lock out the user. In the event of such damage, the most troublesome response is required among cybercrimes. This is because hijacked customer, partner, and employee accounts will have to go back and forth with their respective service providers.
Data and login information circulating on the dark web
Any time you receive a data breach notification from a business partner, you should take it seriously and independently verify it. Websites like HaveIBeenPwned have third-party leak verification. Dark web monitoring tools allow for more detailed searches of data used in cybercrime and forums. Acting quickly, such as changing passwords or blocking credit cards, can reduce risk before attackers can monetize it.