8 signs your computer has been hacked
If your device is connected to the internet, it is vulnerable to hacks. It’s that simple. Cyber criminals are always coming up with new tricks to get into your gadgets and you should be aware of that.
Fortunately, there are usually signs that your device has been compromised. When it comes to smartphones, this can include spikes in data usage, battery drain, and changes to your home screen. Tap or click here to learn how to diagnose and fix phone hacks.
Like your phone, your computer is vulnerable to cyber attacks. Read on for telltale signs that your computer has been hacked and what to do about it.
1. Hot and slow
If your computer is suddenly running at a snail’s pace, it could be a sign of malware. Malware slows down a computer because it uses resources like your CPU and memory.
The harder your computer works, the hotter it gets. You may notice that your computer is producing more heat than usual or you may hear the fans spinning overtime to cool things down.
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If you are using a PC, open the Processes tab in the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete. See a program that uses way too many resources? Do you see programs you don’t recognize? Stop those processes and run a virus scan (more on that below).
If you’re on a Mac, open Activity Monitor by clicking the magnifying glass on the right side of the menu bar at the top of your screen or pressing Command+Spacebar to open a Spotlight window and search for “activity monitor.” ‘. If you see something that is using excessive resources, reset it and run a scan.
2. Ransomware Message
This is an obvious one. You get an alarming message that your computer is locked, your files and passwords have been stolen and you will not get anything back unless you pay. You have fallen victim to ransomware. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that you will get anything back.
We hope you have a backup of all your files. Use a backup company you can trust, such as our sponsor I drive†
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You can check if your personal information is on the internet by going to the: HaveIBeenPwned website. Tap or click here to see how it works.
3. Fake Scans
You may get a pop-up with a scan that detects tons of infections. The scan will probably not look familiar to you. That’s because it’s fake. There may be buttons to start the scan if it isn’t already, or one to remove the viruses and malware. The truth is that the scan itself is part of an attack on your system.
Do not click on buttons or links. If you cannot close the pop-up, restart your computer and run your own legitimate virus scan as soon as possible.
4. Data usage is rising
If you notice an increase in data usage, your computer may be infected. Adware can run in the background and perform endless clicks to generate money for cyber criminals.
Your ISP has tools to help you track your monthly data usage. Log in to your account to check it. Study the Data Usage Meter or Data Monitor, depending on your provider. Compare the figures with those of previous months.
If you notice minor changes, don’t worry. But sudden unexplained spikes are signs that your computer is infected. Run a virus scan.
5. Fake Social Media Invitations
If your friends receive invitations from you on social media that you didn’t send, your account has probably been hacked. You can also see that friend requests and messages are sent without your input.
Report the problem to the social network and inform your friends not to accept invitations from you. Change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication.
RELATED: How do you know if you’re being stalked or just being paranoid?
6. Slow internet and video buffering
If you notice that webpages load slowly and videos take too long to play, it could indicate DNS hijacking. This allows hackers to redirect your internet traffic to their own insecure servers. Aside from slowing things down, this can expose your privacy and information.
If you enter an address and end up on another page, something is messing with your DNS settings. To check your router’s DNS settings, you can use online tools that also offer advanced hijack protection, such as Cloudflare or Quad9.
Tap or click here to learn more about how to protect your router from hacks.
7. You have new browser toolbars
You can install your own toolbars to make things like online shopping and searching easier, but if you see one you don’t recognize, it could collect information about you or even serve as a gateway for a virus.
Remove/remove unknown toolbars and buttons from your browser settings and then run an antivirus scan.
8. Programs and apps crash
A program can crash due to a bug or a wrong start, but if you find that this happens often, your computer may have been hacked with a virus or malware. The news gets worse if you find your antivirus software and task manager freezing or inaccessible.
Try starting your computer in safe mode to diagnose and fix the problem.
In Windows, click the Windows logo key + I. This will open Settings. Choose Update & Security and then Recovery. Under Advanced Startup, choose Restart Now. After your computer has rebooted to the Choose an option screen, click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings, and then click Restart.
After it reboots, you will see a list of options. Choose 4 or press F4 to boot into Safe Mode. If you must use the Internet, choose 5 or press F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.
If you are using a Mac, start or restart your computer and immediately hold down Shift. Continue to hold the key until the Apple logo appears and release it when you see the login screen.
In safe mode, try running your antivirus to scan for problems. When you are done, restart your computer to exit Safe Mode.
How do you avoid being hacked?
You can minimize your risk of being hacked by improving your computer’s defenses. Your first step should be a reliable antivirus solution. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAVan award-winning security suite that gives you continuous protection while blocking malicious websites and helping you clean up junk.
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Using multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security when logging into an account. It could be a fingerprint, a piece of information that only you know, or a code sent to a device that only you have access to.
To further secure your accounts, try an authenticator app, which generates one-time passcodes every 30 seconds. Tap or click here to learn more about authenticator apps.
Keep all your devices and software up to date. Tap or click here for our report with how to update everything.
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