Are you Hacked? How to Find Out and What to Do Next?
Imagine a scenario where you are one of those into torrenting and you are downloading a game from a torrent website. You notice how small the file size is but you wave this suspicion aside being that it’s just a game you are downloading. After downloading and installing, you however notice that random ads take over your device and a lot of programs are running on your computer. You try to shut it down but to no avail. At this point the answer to the question “have I been hacked?” is a big “Yes”.
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This scenario painted above is one of the many ways hackers take over your device. It’s straightforward downloading a virus from a torrent website, but they are subtler ways that hackers can bypass your security and take over your device.
What Is Hacking?
Hacking is an act that involves seizing unauthorized data from the device where it is stored. The data could be anything from an email address, passwords, bank and credit card details, and other personal data belonging to an individual or organization.
Simply put, there are two main ways hacking can take place; directly and indirectly.
- Hacking is said to be direct when the attacker is specifically after you and targets you either through phishing or infesting your device with a virus and other forms of malware.
- Indirect hacking takes place when hackers steal users’ information from a website where they provided this information. It doesn’t target any specific user and can be very dangerous especially for users who have a single password for multiple accounts. If that’s the case, the hacker can have access to all your other accounts as the password and login details have already been gotten.
How to Know You Have Been Hacked?
With improved and smarter technology being used, hacking attempts have also become more sophisticated to be able to bypass whatever restrictions and security you have put up. They are a lot of methods hackers use to get access to personal data and we can’t go through all of them, but we will discuss some common warning signs that point to the fact that your data is being accessed by a third party.
- When you hear of data breaches on websites you have registered and provided your information to, it’s possible that your data has also been compromised and it’s a sign to help you prepare against direct cyberattacks to you using your information. You can prevent any damage by changing your login details especially if you use one password for different accounts.
- If you see sent messages that you are sure you didn’t send, it’s also a sign that someone else is operating your device remotely. They could be targeting your acquaintance and the fastest way to get their corporation is to use your device to send the text message. Change your sign-in options and make it more secure to get into your device.
- If you get unusual ads, pop-ups, and strange programs running on your device, it is a sign that you have downloaded malware unwittingly, and it’s running in full swing. Such malware exists to steal your data and take control of your device. It may be difficult to take back control of your device depending on the type of malware you are dealing with, and in such a case meet an expert for help.
- Always leave your notifications on as they are the first signs when an attempt is being made to gain access to your account. Login notifications are useful in social media accounts, and also in your bank app to protect you from unauthorized access. So when you receive notification about login attempts, access the account and change your password to something more secure. Also, make use of other layers of security like two-factor authentication.
- If you find out software installation for a program you didn’t authorize is going on, it means your device isn’t under your control anymore and it’s a sign of a hack. Get professional help immediately to gain control of your device again.
- If your internet searches keep getting redirected, it’s a sign that you have been hacked and are being redirected to a malicious website.
How to Spot Successful Hacking Attacks?
1 . If You Have an Account On a Website That Is Suffering from A Data Breach
If you check your email for breaches online and you get a positive result, then you know you have been hacked without your knowledge. Another sign that points towards you being hacked is when you have an account on a site and they suffer an attack that leads to data loss. Yours is likely part of the data that was lost and it’s a sign of data breach too.
2. Your Contacts Are Receiving Messages You Didn’t Send
If any of your contacts complains to you about getting a disturbing message from you and you know you didn’t send it, it’s cause for worry. The message could be asking for personal details or could contain links to malicious websites that would infect your devices with malware.
3. You Have Infected Software Installed On Your Computer
If you download software and it ends up acting strange, it may have been infected. An example is when you download something from a torrent website and after installation, you start seeing ads and other software running on your device. Once this happens it’s a sign that you have been hacked.
Interesting Read : How and Why to Keep Multiple Online Identities Separate
4. Notifications About Login Attempts
If you receive a login attempt notification and it’s not from you, then someone else is trying to gain unauthorized access to your account. You can prevent this by changing your password to something more secure, and also adding an extra layer of security like two-factor authentication.
5. Your Device Is Installing Software On Its Own
If you didn’t authorize software installation and your device is running the command, then you may be under attack. Such software may be malicious and once installed would take control over your device and steal data, sending it back to the hacker.
6. Your Internet Searches Keep Getting Redirected
If you try visiting a website or try searching on search engines and your requests keep getting redirected, it’s a sign that you have been hacked. Chances are that the sites you are being redirected to are malicious and would download and install viruses and malware on your device. To fix this, completely reset your web browser.
How Hackers Can Compromise Your Accounts and Devices?
1 . Phone Hacks: How You Can Tell If You Have Been Hacked
The process of hacking is so sophisticated that hackers can plant spyware and malware on your device even without touching it. One of the following are signs that should alert you to this:
- When you experience unusually high data usage
- Your linked accounts have unusual activity
- You notice strange pop-ups
- Your device reboots randomly
- Web pages load slowly
- Your device lags a lot and overheats
- Emails get blocked
- Your screen wakes up randomly
- You hear background noises during calls that are not associated with the calls
- Sudden and rapid battery drainage
2 . Computer Hacks: Everyone Can Be a Victim
In computer hacks, there are different forms in which it comes. You may realize you have been hacked only when you try to clear pop-ups but to no avail. Other times, your computer can begin to lag because of malware infestation and this is bad because people hardly associate device lag with hacks. So you may waste resources in trying to make your device fast again meanwhile the hacker is stealing as much as they want.
3. Email Hacks: One of The Commonest Types of Hacks
Email hacks are the most common because, at one point or another, your email address and passwords may have been compromised when a website you are registered on got hacked and lost data. Many big companies including social media platforms have had their data leaked once or twice in the past, so if you have been on the internet for quite a while, it is highly likely that your email address is part of the stolen data in a hacker’s drive.
4. Social Media Hacks: A Problem for High Profile Users
Sometimes you may see a strange post from a celebrity that is unlike them. Sometimes the strange posts are made by celebrities, but most times, those posts are a result of hacks to their account. High profile users are targeted and their accounts are used to spread suspicious links and propaganda.
An example of this can be seen some time ago on Twitter, where Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and Apple amongst others were tweeting about some bitcoin scam. It has already been taken care of by Twitter, but huge damage was already done.
What to Do If I Have Been Hacked
Different hacks have different approaches to handling them as this depends on the severity of the attack. To gain back control of your device and digital security, here are some tips for you:
1 . Change Your Password
This is the easiest to do but it’s very important. Remember that your password strength determines how easy it would be to hack into your account, so when choosing a password, make it strong and unique. Avoid repeating one password for all your accounts, and you can use a password manager to make it easier to remember your passwords no matter the complexity and number.
2 . Reach Out to The Customer Service Team
Different companies have different policies regarding account recovery, and so you can find out what the necessary steps are by reaching out to the customer service agents. You can also do a google search for it and follow the required steps.
3. Reinstall Your OS
If you want to get rid of malware from your device, one method you can use is to wipe your device completely and restart it.
4 . Take A Close Look at Your Internet Banking
Look out for any unauthorized purchases made, and if you find any, freeze your account to prevent further theft. Only lift the block when everything has been handled and your security upgraded.
Avoid Hacks and Take Back Control
1 . Use Two Factor Authentication
With two factor authentication, you would have introduced an additional layer of security in the login process into your account. This makes it harder for a hacker to break into your account and take control.
2. Scan Your Device for Viruses Regularly
You should get a good antivirus software and update it as soon as a new version is released. You should also scan your devices regularly and allow the software to run in the background so it can alert you of any malware as they come.
Interesting Read : Unblock TikTok With A VPN In 2020
3. Don’t Ignore Software Updates
Software updates usually have better security and fix loopholes and backdoors that exist in the current software. So to get the best security features your OS has to offer, update your software as it comes.
4. Avoid Connecting to Unprotected Wi-Fi Networks
Avoid inputting sensitive information or sending sensitive emails over unprotected Wi-Fi connections. Always connect to a VPN if you must, or use mobile data.
This article has done justice to this common question among internet users, “have I been hacked?” There are different ways your device can get hacked, and they are various signs that tell you that your device has been compromised. Some hacks are sophisticated and difficult to detect, but in every situation, there are ways to prevent falling victim to hacks. These include using a VPN while connecting to Wi-Fi especially if sensitive information would be sent. You can also use two-factor authentication to make it more difficult for your account to be taken over by an attacker.