Hackers have really advanced and perfected their craft to the extent that it is become increasingly difficult to stop them. Even investing in the so-called strong antivirus and anti-malware doesn’t give 100% guarantee that your computer is hack-proof. For this reason, knowing how to tell and what to do if your computer has been hacked would help compliment the work of your protection software.
To start with, let me explain how hackers can take over your computer while your antivirus and antimalware look silly and incapable of doing anything.
How Hackers Render Antivirus and Antimalware Useless
The best of hackers code and design camouflage files that integrate perfectly into the Windows system files of victims’ computer. By this, the protection software on the computer believes the files are safe (because Window system files are supposed to be safe) and never scan them.
These infected files are, therefore, able to function as part of the files needed for the computer to run, but at the same time provide loopholes from which the hacker can hijack the computer.
Nevertheless, no matter how perfect hackers are in disguising the hacking process, there are always some pointers to knowing your computer has been hacked. The aim of this post is to present to you the pointers and also provide you what to do if you think your computer has been hacked.
Fasten your seat belt as I point out the pointers (and red flags) to watch out for on your computer.
How to Tell (Pointers) & What to Do If Your Computer Has Been Hacked
1. Number of installed applications increase
In most cases, malware used by hackers don’t come in executable (exe) files that could be installed. But at times, some of them end up being installed as part of the installed applications on a computer. Therefore, one way to tell that your computer has been hacked is by looking through the list of your installed programs in the Control Panel.
If you spot an application your didn’t install, uninstall it. However, you have to be careful with the unknown program you want to uninstall. There are some applications that while installing them, they also install additional applications that facilitate their functionality.
Such applications usually give notification of wanting to install added applications. So be sure you don’t uninstall useful extra applications that come with this kind of applications.
2. Computer login password changes
When the login password to your computer suddenly changes, without you changing it, that’s a strong sign that your computer has been hacked. Why should your computer login password change itself? The only scenario I have seen login password automatically changing itself was in some Builds of Windows 10.
But in those Builds, your computer login password only expires and you are asked to change it yourself; it doesn’t automatically change itself.
What you can do if your computer has been hacked and your login password changed is to restore your computer to factory setting or reinstall your Windows. And of course, you can hack your own computer using some Windows password cracking tools out there, but it is illegal.
3. Online accounts password change
This is related to when your computer login password changes. After a hacker accesses a computer and changes its password, he can also go ahead and change the passwords to your online accounts, especially if you used to save your passwords in your browsers.
If you notice that the passwords to some of your online accounts have changed, that’s an enough pointer that your computer has been hacked.
The thing to do to recover your passwords back is to use the forget password feature of your online accounts. If the hacker changed the recovery email for your accounts, your only way out is to contact the providers of your online accounts.
They are your last resort; since they have the records of your account, they can trace your account and help you to recover it.
4. Your contacts receive spam email from you
Another way to tell that your computer has been hacked is when your email contacts tell you they are receiving a strange email from you. Hackers usually use victims’ email to send spam email to their friends, family members, and even co-workers. They do this based on the belief that these people are likely to open emails from their victim, and from there, also get them hacked.
What to do if your computer has been hacked and your email compromised is to log out your email address and change your password. It would also be kind of you to tell your family and friends to be wary of spam emails purported to be from you.
5. Network becomes slow and data runs out quickly
Without the Internet, hackers can toothless. They need to remotely connect to the victim’s computer over the Internet and share their data. Through sharing the Internet with the victim, the victim’s Internet could become suddenly slow.
Notwithstanding, your Internet becoming suddenly or unnecessarily slow isn’t a confirmation that your computer has been hacked.
ISPs in some countries are notoriously known for being slow. But if your ISP provides a fast network service and things suddenly become slow for a long period of time, it may be a sign that you have an uninvited guest on your network.
As for what to do to know if your computer has been hacked and someone sharing your data from a remote location, you need to install bandwidth monitor program. From there, you will be able to know what the hell is happening on your network.
6. Anti-virus disabled and unknown program requesting access to firewall
Antivirus, anti-malware and Windows firewall are the robust structures that help protect and defend a computer against external forces. However, when these robust structures are eventually cracked and broken into, the hacker can disable and even uninstall them.
By disabling the antivirus and anti-malware, the hacker is able to make his malware function effectively on victim’s computer without any danger alert.
So if the antivirus on your computer is automatically disabled or disappeared, your computer has been hacked. As for Windows firewall, when you see a strange application asking to access to the firewall, you need to take caution as it might be a malware.
The thing you need to do when you notice your antivirus and anti-malware have been uninstalled is to reinstall and update them, and then, do a full system scan. For the firewall, don’t ever grant access to any strange program asking for access.
7. Automatic mouse movement and computer operates itself
From their remote location, hackers can control a login session into a computer – but of course, the computer must be connected to the Internet before they can do that. They can control a login session as if they are sitting directly in front of victims’ computer.
So if you are operating your computer and notice that a program you didn’t start opens itself or your mouse keeps moving in directions you aren’t taking it, someone might be sitting in a remote room, operating your computer.
And as for what to do when you notice this, you need to update your antivirus/anti-malware program; after that, disconnect your computer from the Internet and do a full antivirus/anti-malware scan.
Hackers may have perfected their ways to beating antivirus and anti-malware; however, they would never perfect the pointers and red flags that show they are in action. And when you see any of the pointers talked about here, following the recommended things to do would help save your files and your privacy.
I like to hear from you. Has your computer ever been hacked? What pointers did you notice and what did you do to be safe again.