Sadly, computer hackings are all too common nowadays and while this is inconvenient enough when it’s your own personal computer, the consequences can be even worse if your work or business computer is hacked. And it’s not just amateur hackers out there trying to be a nuisance, these days cybercriminals are smart, sophisticated and coordinated and they’re looking to cause maximum damage by either stealing or tampering with sensitive information.
In fact, it is estimated that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds – that’s a lot of cybercrime! But in the early stages it can be tricky to know if your computer has been affected, especially if you don’t know how to recognise the signs. That’s why we’ve put together this guide. If you notice one or more of the following, your computer may have been hacked and you need to address the issue as quickly as possible to get things running smoothly again.
- You keep getting random pop-ups
When using your computer have you started to notice frequent pop-ups? While you may have the occasional advert or live chat box pop-up on your screen, this should not be a regular occurrence, especially if the images or text seems very spammy. This is a sure-fire sign that something is going on and you should look into cleaning your device and bettering your security systems.
- Your passwords no longer work
If you’ve tried logging into your user account or any other programs and sites you use frequently but you’ve been denied access, this could be because you’ve been hacked. Luckily, many platforms will have systems in place where you can report the issue and quickly change your password. In this case, try to make it as strong a password as possible. This means making it longer than eight characters, using a mixture of capital and lower-case letters, numbers and characters if the platform allows.
- There are programs or user accounts you didn’t install
Have you noticed new user accounts appearing on your computer or new programs that you know you didn’t install? This can be a sign of a hacking. Not only this, but if you start to notice unwanted tools have been added to your browser this can also be a red flag.
- Someone tries to access your accounts
One of the great things about many of today’s platforms is that they are geared with security in mind and will often alert you to any suspicious behaviour. For example, if someone tries to log in to your emails or your Facebook page from a strange location or new device, often you will be sent an alert asking if this is you. Then if it’s not, you can report the issue immediately. So, if you receive an alert saying someone is trying to log into your accounts, be sure to act fast.
- Your antivirus software keeps shutting down
Often your antivirus software will pop up each time you turn your computer on, it might run some updates or check for any problems. Alternatively, you might have to open the program manually and run a scan. Whatever the case may be, if your antivirus software keeps shutting itself down or doesn’t appear to be doing its job anymore, this could be a sign that your computer has been hacked and the criminals are trying to shut down your defences.
- You’ve got a strange spike in traffic
Have you noticed a strange spike in traffic to your website? Weird as it sounds, this could be a sign that someone is hacking into, or has already hacked into, your site through your device. If you monitor your stats and traffic regularly this should be fairly easy to spot and address as quick as possible. Just remember, if you’ve run any large ad campaigns or other promotions this could be the reason for the spike, so before you panic, just make sure the increase in traffic isn’t down to your own marketing efforts first.
- Fake emails or social media invitations have been sent from your accounts
Has someone you know reported receiving strange communications from your accounts? This could be receiving emails from you that you didn’t send or being sent strange invitations on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. If someone you know gives you a heads up that they’ve had some weird messages from your accounts, this is another sign your computer has been hacked and you should report the issue and change your passwords immediately.
- Confidential data has been leaked
Has someone approached you with knowledge of confidential information? Perhaps a colleague, employee or even someone on the internet has expressed knowledge of sensitive information you know for a fact was stored within your computer or files. This is a sure-fire sign someone unauthorised has accessed your device or files.
- Your computer keeps crashing
There is nothing more frustrating than your computer crashing, especially when you’re working. But sadly, this is unavoidable. But if this keeps happening frequently, so often in fact that you find it almost impossible to use your device at all, this is a major red flag. You may need to take your computer to be cleaned, after this you should install new security systems and malware to try and keep your device safe in the future.
Could you spot the signs of a computer hacking?
Having your computer or any of your systems hacked for that matter, is inconvenient and in today’s GDPR climate can cause real problems for you or your business. As such, being aware of the red flags and how to spot the signs is the best way to arm yourself and ensure you react as quickly as possible should there be a security breach.
Above are nine of the most common signs that someone is trying to access your device or information. If you notice any of the above, it’s vital that you act as quickly as possible, especially if your computer contains a lot of sensitive information. Once your device has been backed up, cleaned and is running again, you should invest in the best possible security systems to avoid this happening again in the future.