How to find out if my computer has been hacked

How to find out if my computer has been hacked

Cyber ​​security has become a bigger risk over the years, but it has also become easier to identify and avoid. However, it assumes that you are aware of the markers and the proper steps to prevent and counter a cyber security attack.

But the obvious question on your mind is how can you find out if your computer has been hacked? A computer that is exposed to a cyber security attack, or in other words hacked, will behave in a certain way, generally erratically. More often than not, you will be able to tell that something is wrong. How to find out if your computer has been hacked.

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How can I find out if my computer has been hacked?

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We mostly use the word “hacked” as an adjective for a compromised system or account. Hacking generally involves a hacker being in control and orchestrating every move, but many hacks such as viruses and malware do not require active control. As such, in this guide we will discuss scenarios where computers have been compromised, ranging from an actual hack to garden variety malware.

A hacked computer will usually behave erratically. You can watch out for a few markers that may point towards your computer being hacked. Here are the most common ones.

  • Frequent pop-ups — Constantly opening unknown windows on the computer.
  • Changes to the home screen — Changes to the background, theme or other aspects of the home screen.
  • Apps you don’t recognize — Icons or windows for apps you don’t recognize or remember installing.
  • Frequent redirects in the browser — Constant pop-ups, redirects or ads in your web browsing.
  • Emails you didn’t send — Contents of your e-mail inbox or sent e-mail folders that you do not recognize.
  • Performance issues — The PC does not work as expected, programs crash, overheat or fans always run at high speed with noise.
  • Suspicious behavior on social media — Logins, posts or messages on social media accounts that you did not start.
  • Suspicious transactions — In the worst case, transactions on your bank or card accounts that you did not initiate.
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Common hacks

There are some common attacks you can watch out for. If your computer is hacked, one of these is probably the cause.

Denial of Service (DoS) attacks

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A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is exactly what it sounds like. It is an attack that aims to stop the intended user(s) from accessing a system or service. This usually involves an unauthorized password change and leaves you locked out of your computer or accounts. It can come with a ransom attack, when the hacker holds your system and data for ransom and asks you to pay money to return them.

Trojan attack

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A Trojan attack is when a malicious program pretends to be a good program. It manages to bypass your OS and antivirus security measures by pretending to be a legitimate program and then proceeds to attack your system from within. Ransomware attacks also often follow Trojan attacks.

Phishing scam

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A phishing scam is when a hacker tries to direct you to a fake copy of a website, usually social media or banking, to get you to enter your login information. The hacker then gains access to your sensitive information, compromising your information and finances. Be careful, as hackers and scammers often do these over the phone, pretending to be customer service agents.

Viruses and malware

These are more common, but just as potentially dangerous. Hackers design and mass distribute these viruses and malware to steal data and cripple your system. The more sophisticated ones can even give a lot of your information to the hackers, or even allow them to take over your system.

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How do I stop hacks on my computer?

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Prevention is better than cure, and that is even more true in this case. Stopping hacking on your computer begins with vigilance. Here are some steps to prevent hacking on your computer.

  • Keep your software up to date — Make sure your PC has the latest updates and security patches installed.
  • Monitor your apps — Make sure your apps are from a legitimate source like official app stores or product websites, and check the task manager to find unknown apps running.
  • Use strong passwords — Avoid simple passwords that are easy to guess, and never reveal your passwords to others.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication — Secure your accounts with a two-step authentication method or authentication apps.
  • Verify the website’s legitimacy before using it — Check that the URLs of the websites you visit have the correct spelling and that your browser has marked them as secure.
  • Do not use unknown websites — Unknown sites pose a security risk, so at least use a VPN while visiting them, and don’t accept unknown downloads forced by such sites.
  • Reset your PC — Sometimes the best option to be sure of being hack-free is to reset your PC, but make sure to back up your data first.
  • Use active real-time antivirus protection — Use antivirus software that runs in the background to protect your system in real time.

Antivirus software will generally protect you from hacks and other security issues, and even help remove existing hacks. There are many great free antivirus software, but you can get a paid one if you want to go the extra mile. Find our recommendations on the links below.

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Common questions

No. Generally, no company will call you about something like that. If someone calls you saying your computer has been hacked, it’s probably a scam call and you shouldn’t entertain it.

In most cases, yes. You can also recover the data in most cases and even in some cases of ransomware attacks. Most hacker attacks are not sophisticated enough to harm your hardware or data, provided you take the right steps.

If you suspect that someone has hacked your PC, you should try running an antivirus scan immediately. If that doesn’t solve your problems, try backing up your data and performing a system reset.

If your computer gets hacked, it will behave erratically and there are some markers to watch out for, as we have mentioned above.

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