How to tell if you have been hacked

Eight Signs You've Been Hacked - and How to Fight Back

It’s not a secret that hackers don’t make victims aware of the fact that they have hacked. And that’s not without reason.

This might sound obvious, but just because everything “seems to be fine” doesn’t mean that’s actually the case.

You might not realize a hacker is already inside one or more of your devices. But there are signs that tell you that you’ve been hacked and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Constant and Random Browser Pop-Ups

This popular sign that you’ve been hacked is also one of the more annoying ones. When you’re getting random browser pop-ups from websites that don’t normally generate them, your system has been compromised.

What to do: Shut down the browser window or tab. Be wary of popups or bad ads that may have fake buttons that resemble the usual close button – if clicked, you could end up downloading malware. It’s best to avoid interacting with the alert at all.

Check what webpage you were browsing and consider avoiding it for a while – it may have been hacked in order to push these malicious alerts.

Browser Toolbars Installed Without Your Knowledge

If your browser is suddenly showing toolbars you don’t recognize and clearly didn’t install, it’s almost sure that your computer has been compromised.

Unwanted toolbars can be extremely annoying. They can mess with your browser settings and, for example, change your standard homepage to a spammy website.

Additionally, these toolbars can open the door to other malicious files and open ad windows without your permission.

What to do: It’s time to get rid of these annoying toolbars. The longer you let them sit in your toolbar, the higher the chance other malware will nest itself in your system.

Unwanted and Unexpected Software Is Installed

Similar to unwanted installations of browser toolbars, it’s a clear sign that you’ve been hacked if software automatically installs itself without your consent.

It’s highly likely that these software programs can control or modify other software programs installed on your system. The worst case scenario is that it could modify or disable your antivirus, allowing other types of malware to flood into your system.

What to do: Always make sure to read the license agreements before installing software, and during the installation process steps, always uncheck the boxes that allow third-party software installation.

Your Mouse Moves Between Programs and Makes Selections

If your mouse pointer moves itself while making selections that work (this is the important part), you’ve definitely been hacked. Mouse pointers often move randomly, usually due to hardware problems. If the movements involve making choices to run particular programs, malicious humans are somewhere involved.

What to do: Take a minute before turning it off to determine what the intruders are interested in. Don’t let them rob you, but it will be useful to see what they are looking at and trying to compromise. Take a few pictures to document their tasks. When it makes sense, power off the computer. Unhook it from the network and call in the professionals. You’re going to need expert help with this one.

Your Online Password(s) Isn’t Working

If you attempt to log in to a platform or website (which you use regularly – so you are sure that you entered the correct login details), and you’re not allowed access to your account, it’s quite clear that your account has been compromised.

Note: it could also be that the site is dealing with temporary technical problems that disabled the login form.

However, if you are absolutely sure that you’ve entered the correct login details – and the site is not experiencing technical problems – and it’s no longer working, then it’s highly likely that someone stole your details and changed the password.

What to do: Contact the online service to report the compromised account. Most online services now have easy methods or email contact addresses to report compromised accounts. If you report your account as compromised, usually the service will do the rest to help you restore your legitimate access. Also, consider enacting 2FA or MFA.

If the compromised logon information is used on other websites, immediately change those passwords.

Social Media Messages That You Didn’t Send

Generally in this instance, the hacker is using your account to send out a message to all of your friends with either a link that will instantly start the download of a malicious file or redirect them to a malicious site.

It could be a standard message or only a URL. If the hacker(s) are real professionals, it could even be a personally-tailored message to increase the likelihood of someone clicking the link.

What to do: If the scam is widespread and many of your acquaintances have been contacted, immediately notify all your close contacts about your compromised account. This will minimize the damage being done to others.

Your Online Account is Missing Money

Online bad guys don’t usually steal a little money. They like to transfer everything or nearly everything, often to a foreign exchange or bank. Usually it begins by your computer being compromised or from you responding to a fake phish from your bank or stock trading company. The bad guys log on to your account, change your contact information, and transfer large sums of money to themselves.

What to do: In most cases you are in luck because most financial institutions will replace the stolen funds (especially if they can stop the transaction before the damage is truly done).

To prevent this from happening in the first place, turn on transaction alerts that send text alerts to you when something unusual is happening. Many times the bad guys reset the alerts or your contact information before they steal your money, so this should include anytime your contact information or alerting choices are changed.

Your Antivirus Protection & Task Programs are Disabled

The most advanced viruses can potentially disable your antivirus software. Such kinds of viruses are extremely dangerous, as your computer is basically completely vulnerable to any type of malware and hackers.

What to do: Terminate any suspiciously-running software through Task Manager or Registry Editor. But even if you wanted to, it’s highly likely that you wouldn’t be able to open either of these two programs, as they might also be disabled. In this instance, perform a complete restore because there is no telling what has happened.

Prevention is The Best Cure

Remember: the majority of hacks and viruses don’t become an actual threat without any form of human action to open the gates to a potential attack.

User awareness, multi or two-factor authentication and training will aid in detecting malware and malicious hacking. Yes, there’s some effort involved, some vigilance. That said, it’s vastly less than the work you’d have to expend to recover if hackers manage to compromise your device(s).

Now that you know these signs, make sure to take action immediately, even if you have just the slightest suspicion. The longer you wait, the more damage they hacker will be able to do

What are you waiting for? Educate your people and protect your business. Contact Plow Networks today.

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About Plow Networks

Headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, Plow Networks is a Total Service Provider (TSP) with several distinct business practices that, when consumed together, offer our clients a unique, best-in-class experience. We give organizations peace of mind, valuable time back and the economies of scale that come with having one technology partner that is focused on exceeding their expectations with every engagement.


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(615) 224-8735

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