12 Signs ‘You’ve Been Hacked’ and How to Stay Safe from Malware
Every day we hear an incident of a hacker hacking into computers and cell phone devices through spam emails, codes, or websites to steal our personal information.
In a world connected by a giant web, an online presence is almost irresistible, if not unavoidable. Almost everyone has an online footprint these days because of social media profiles, web surfing, online transactions, and more. With technology and the internet taking over our lives, it’s safe to say that the threat of cybercriminals is our biggest fear right now.
Every day we hear an incident of a hacker hacking into computers and cell phone devices through spam emails, codes, or websites to steal our personal information. While this makes you feel frightened or more vulnerable, it’s good to be aware of all the signs that can help identify if you have been hacked.
Ignorance and unawareness will make you easy prey to the tricks used by malicious thieves who steal your personal information. It’s always good to keep your system and gadgets in check to understand when they have been compromised so you can take action accordingly. This guide contains 12 basic signs you can use to identify if your system has been hacked.
Signs that Tell You, “You’ve Been Hacked!”
1. Spam Antivirus Messages
If you receive antivirus messages on your system that your device is under threat, it is one of the surest signs that tell you that you have been hacked. Sadly, by the time people start receiving such messages, the hackers have already gotten in, and there is nothing you can do.
Even if you try to cancel the spread of the virus by using your antivirus software, it does not do much. Such antivirus messages use the unpatched software to deplete the system completely.
2. Fake Browser Toolbars
Another sign that is very common among hacked devices is the presence of an unwanted or spam toolbar in your browser. You will see different new toolbars with different names that indicate that the tools are convenient. If you have not installed such tools on your browser, do not click on those toolbars unless they are from a well-known source. Dump the toolbar.
3. Automatically Redirected Searches
There are many hacking companies or spam software that rely on pay-per-click (PPC) for their growth. If you open a website that is automatically redirecting you to another webpage that is not where you want to go, then that site might contain many such hacking tools.
These hackers make their living by getting paid with each click on an unwanted website. Often, these pages contain click baits to intrigue you to click on them and, as a result, introduce malware into your system.
4. Random Recurring Pop-ups
One of the most annoying signs that assure an intruder is in your device is the irritatingly frequent pop-ups. When you start receiving malicious pop-ups that you don’t usually receive while using a website, know that your system has been hacked.
Popular websites like YouTube often contain pop-ups or ads that play automatically, but these can be skipped and are from well-known brands. They are merely using a platform for their promotion and mean no harm to your device.
You need not worry about them as you will only receive them while you are on that website, and even these ads can be blocked by using an extension if you find them irritating.
5. Your Email Account Sends Fake Emails to Your Contacts
Even though this is not an ideal scenario, it is comparatively safer than many. If your friends receive bogus emails from your email address, someone may be trying to hack into your contact list through your email id and luring others into the scam as well.
Such emails contain different click baits, such as ‘Good news! Your friend has won a lottery, and you must provide their details for the next step’. Rest assured that such emails are only baits meant to lure the person to get their details and then hack into their system. These emails were high on the rise a decade ago when people did not know these tactics and fell prey to these scenarios.
If you find yourself in such a scenario, there is not much to worry about but inform your friends about the scam to ensure their safety.
6. All Your Online Passwords Change Suddenly
If you have not recently changed your online passwords and you find out that one or more of your passwords have been changed all of a sudden, there is a solid chance your account or even your device has been hacked.
In these circumstances, you most likely would have received a code or an OTP asking you to send it back to them. If you oblige to such responses, then they will have all the authority to change your account password and log you out from accessing it.
The hackers will then have all your log-in information, recently changed passwords, and other information that will leave you with very slim chances of recovery. If it’s your Google account that has been compromised, they can access all your media, including your pictures, as all the data is mainly linked to your Google account.
7. Unpredicted Installation of Software
Unexpected software that you did not intend to install on your computer but is somehow there on your device indicates that you have been hacked. Most malware these days are like worms that install themselves hitched on another software.
When you install software, you might not know, but it may contain some Trojans that take a piggyback ride on the software program to enter your system. Once inside, they unveil themselves and install in your system automatically.
It is essential that while installing any software, you read the license agreements carefully to avoid such a situation.
8. Your Mouse Starts Moving Automatically and Makes Precise Selections
If you experience your cursor moving on its own, it may be due to some hardware issue in your device, but if the movements are deliberate and your mouse makes clear selections on its own, then it is pretty evident that you have been hacked.
However, it is unlikely that the hackers will do that while you are online. Most hackers wait for idle situations when the computer is not being used to make such moves to avoid discovery.
9. Your Antivirus Software Has Been Disabled on its Own
In case you try to start your antivirus software, and it refuses to respond, there is a chance you have been hacked. To make sure, try to start your Task Manager or Registry Editor as well. If both do not respond or respond in a reduced state, it is most likely the doing of malware.
10. Your Money Keeps Disappearing from Your Bank Account
When your accounts are hacked, the motive behind these hackings is, in most cases, stealing. When you have been hacked, the online thieves won’t steal a small amount of money. They will most likely make significant transactions or transfers to foreign accounts that are hard to trace.
In case your money keeps disappearing or a load of money disappears in a single shot, contact your bank to tally the situation and identify if you have been hacked.
11. You Get Calls Concerning Non-payment of Shipped Goods
When hackers choose not to make significant transactions, they make online purchases using your personal information. The payment method will most likely contain your credit card information, and the goods are shipped to another address (most likely the hackers).
These shipments are made in large amounts, and as the transactions push through, your funds will not be sufficient to make the payments. As a result, you will face the consequences.
12. Your Personal Data Gets Leaked
The most common sign of hacking these days is the leaking of confidential data from a person’s device. The hackers can access your media, calls, contacts, and even your message conversations.
If they find anything valuable to them and threaten to you, they may leak such information either to blackmail you or defame you. In a scenario like this, it is pretty clear that your data leakage is due to a hacking episode.
How to Stay Safe from Hackers and Malicious Thieves?
- The best way to ensure safety is to keep an eye out for data breaches.
- Do not share your passwords with anyone, and avoid saving your personal information online.
- Steer clear of malware and junk mails that offer the function of clickbait.
- Regularly perform virus scans and clear your cookies from the cache.
- If your system has already been compromised, restore it to a good state.
- In any case, a system that has been hacked and restored should not be wholly trusted again.
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