How To Tell Your System Has Been Compromised Through A Hack

How To Tell Your System Has Been Compromised Through A Hack 2560 1919 Brooks IT Services

Is there anything more violating than realizing someone has hacked into your computer system?

Everything is there. From pictures of your family to financial statements, proprietary information, and more. Once your system has been hacked, your most private information is in the hands of a stranger. 

With the growing popularity of smart cars and homes, a compromised system is even more devastating. However, the first line of defense is recognizing that a hack has occurred. From there, you can go into problem-solving mode. 

To combat these risks, you need to ensure your computer security is up to the challenge.

8 Signs Your System Has Been Compromised Through A Hack

If you notice any of the following signs, or anything suspicious, contact your IT expert immediately. The quicker you begin to deal with the problem, the better outcome you are setting up for yourself.

1. You’ve Clicked Links Within Suspicious Emails 

While you probably know better than to even open suspicious emails, we understand that it happens. Maybe you were just thumbing through emails on your phone and with the slip of a thumb… You’ve played right into the hacker’s hand.

However, knowing that you have made yourself vulnerable is better than not knowing. At this point, start changing passwords – all of them.

Keep a close eye on your outgoing emails, financial information, and social media. Sometimes, hackers send the same suspicious emails to your contacts from your account. This also occurs through private messages on social media apps and websites.

2. There Are Unusual Activity On Your Credit Cards Or Bank Statements

You work too hard to hand over your cash to an ill-intentioned cyber-criminal. So don’t let them have it.

It’s a good idea to always monitor your accounts. Furthermore, you can enable settings to be notified of all account activity. While it might seem silly to get a text every time you buy a pack of gum, in the end, it’s worth it. Because imagine if that email or text alerts you that someone is wiping out your entire savings?

If you do notice unusual activity on your credit cards or bank statements, contact those financial institutions immediately. It might also be a good idea to cancel all credit cards and get new ones. 

Of course, make sure to change all passwords to something unique that cannot be guessed by looking through your social media. That means avoid using pet names, birthdays, addresses, and even your great-great-granddad’s nickname. Avoid anything with any personal mention, even if you think no one else knows. It might surprise you to learn what a stranger can learn about you on the internet. 

3. New Programs Suddenly Appear On Your Devices

Software does not magically appear. If it seems that is happening to you, then you might have a hacker installing spyware or malware onto your devices. 

To combat this, speak to your IT expert about monitoring your network. Moreover, ask them to look through your computer to make sure no hidden programs are running in the background.

As always, taking preventative measures is the best bet in securing your computer system. The best way to prevent hackers from gaining control is to install and regularly update your firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software. The updates are important to let the software know about the latest threats. 

Need help making sure your lines of defense are properly installed and updated regularly? Get in touch with Brooks IT Services today to make sure your system (and its defenses) are in tip-top shape.

4. Someone Else Is Controlling Your Desktop

Do you ever open your computer to see your cursor moving around like it has a mind of its own?

Unfortunately, that’s not a strange glitch. If you notice activity on your computer that you’re not doing, that means a hacker is in your system. They are remotely accessing your computer and digging through your files.

This could also come in the form of a screen blackout. Hackers from around the world use this method to keep victims in the dark. If you get a phone call from someone wanting to gain remote access to your computer, say no. They make you think you have a problem and that they will fix it. What they’re actually doing is installing malware to make the screen black on your end. Meanwhile, they are going through all of your information and stealing your most vulnerable and valuable data.

5. Your Passwords Aren’t Working

Forgetting passwords may seem pretty common. It happens to the best of us.

However, if you know a specific password and it’s not working, you may have a hacker on your hands. Hackers may go into your accounts and change passwords to keep you out. By doing this, they are buying time and keeping you in the dark.

While you are contacting customer service to reset your password, they are rummaging through your most personal information.

Furthermore, if you have been reusing passwords on multiple sites, this is your wake-up call to stop. Because if a hacker has figured out any password, they will use it to try to break into your email, bank, and anything else they think might be worth their time. 

Passwords should contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters – such as bR0oks!T. However, we would never use a password that in any way resembles the name of our company, that’s just too obvious. A randomized string of letters, numbers, and symbols are the strongest passwords you can use. There are even programs and browser applications that can randomly generate passwords for you. 

6. Friends Are Receiving Social Media Messages & Invitations That You Didn’t Send

If you’re a social media user, you’ve probably noticed at some point a friend has posted something along the lines of, “I’ve been hacked! Don’t open any messages!” 

These public notices are doing you a favor. Now, you know that if you receive a message that seems out of the ordinary from that friend, go ahead and delete it. Hackers love to infiltrate their victims’ lives via social media. 

They go into your account and send a malware embedded link to as many people as they can. Or they might post something strange, or wildly inappropriate, to your personal page. While this may be embarrassing, everyone understands that this kind of thing happens for the most part. 

If you believe your social media accounts have been compromised, change your passwords right away. Since social media links to so many different accounts these days, it’s important to stay cautious and aware. Change passwords often and make sure they are all different and unique.

7. Internet Searches Are Being Redirected

Are you opening one search engine browser to magically be looking through results on another? Or are the same irrelevant results appearing no matter what search terms you type?

If this is happening to you, then you may have a bogus toolbar installed on your search engine by a hacker. This is because many hackers make money by increasing clicks to a website to drive up ad revenue. It’s important to realize the owner of the website may be oblivious that they’ve hired a hacker or their tactics. 

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action. Try uninstalling the toolbar and making sure there are no suspicious programs running. If this is out of your wheelhouse, then get a reputable IT expert on the phone immediately.

If you are noticing this type of thing happening on your computer, contact Brooks IT Services today. We will do a comprehensive check of your system to ensure no ill-intentioned hacker is disrupting your devices or data.

8. You Receive A Ransomware Message

The dreadful ransomware you’ve heard in the news is very real. Once hackers get into your system, they encrypt your data and essentially hold it hostage.

In return for the key to decrypt your data, they typically request a cryptocurrency payment. You must not give in to these demands, ever.

There is zero way of knowing whether they’ll hold up their end of the deal. Cryptocurrency is not regulated, and the account holder could be on the other side of the world.

The best defense against a ransomware attack is to take preventative measures by securing your data in the cloud. If your information is already backed up, then you don’t need the encryption key from the hackers. And since you don’t know if they would delete the data on their end anyway, there’s no reason to pay into their ransom. 

Secure Your System Against A Hack

Brooks IT Services is here to make sure your system is running efficiently and protected against the evil members of the hackersphere. 

Furthermore, with remote online monitoring, we can ensure the continuous protection of your network. Don’t go another day crossing your fingers that you don’t become a target. When it comes to cyberattacks, the question is when not if a hacker will zone in on an unprotected network.

Ready to be confident in your computer system? Reach out to Brooks IT Services today to protect your company against a hack.