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7 Signs Your Computer Has Been Hacked, and 5 Ways to Prevent It

  • You can tell that your computer has been hacked if you see frequent pop-up messages, lots of emails sent from your account, or unexpected programs appearing.
  • If your computer is hacked, you risk losing data, having your identity stolen, or suffering financial loss.
  • Here are seven signs that your computer has been hacked and five steps you can take to prevent hacking.

Computer hacking doesn’t just happen in movies. Unless you take precautions and make your computer security a priority, it is possible that you will be hacked, which can result in data loss or theft, ID theft, and worse.

But what does being hacked look like? The signs can be subtle, but they are often easy to spot. You may experience unexpected changes to your computer, sudden slow performance, and an increase in unwanted behavior such as pop-up windows. Here are seven of the most important signs that you’ve been hacked, as well as tips on how to protect your computer from hacking.

Common signs of a hacked computer

There isn’t one set of signals that you’ve been hacked, mainly because there are so many different ways you can be attacked. Here are seven ways to know you might have been hacked.

Watch pop-up messages and antivirus warnings

Pop-up windows warning you about viruses and malware attacks sound helpful in principle, but make sure you see a real message from the antimalware software you have installed before responding or acting on its recommendations. The truth is that many of these messages are evidence that your computer has been hacked – infected with malware disguised as antivirus software.

If you see any kind of unexpected warning message, do not click. Instead, close your web browser and run antimalware software on your computer to check for the presence of malicious software.

Unauthorized email sent from your account

A common goal of hackers is to infect as many computers as possible. One way to do that is to take control of email apps and email services, and use them to send infected email messages to as many people in the hacked address book as possible. A serious signal that you have been hacked: hearing from friends and colleagues that they have received spam from your email account.

New programs installed on your computer

It’s no wonder you have more programs installed on your computer than you ever use. Your computer vendor may have pre-installed many apps, for example. But if you suddenly discover unexpected apps running when you start your computer, or you see new programs in the taskbar or notification tray, then it’s likely that you’ve been hacked or infected with malware, and it unknown programs do harmful things on your PC.

The list of startup apps in Windows 11.

You can check the list of startup apps on your computer to see if there are any new or unexpected ones installed.

Dave Johnson

If the uninstaller does not work or you cannot remove these unknown programs, there is a very good chance that your computer has been compromised.

Password changes and access to apps and services

In most cases, you should receive an email or text message notification when your password or access settings change for common online apps and services – especially banking and other financial services. If you receive emails notifying you about changes to your account settings that you didn’t request or authorize, that’s a big red flag that you’ve been hacked. Contact the financial institution or other service to see if you still have control over the account.

However, be very careful. A common phishing trick involves sending a fake email about a password reset or other account change. If you click on a link or call the phone number in the message, you may be in direct contact with hackers, who will milk you for personal information and possibly obtain enough information to hack into your account. true. If you follow up on a possible hack, always contact the service using the email or phone number you found in the service’s app or on its website.

Slow performance and frequent crashes

As your computer ages, it often starts to feel like it’s running slower than when you first brought it home, either because Windows is slowing down or the hard drive is filling up and not accessing data efficiently. But if your computer suddenly starts acting strange – it slows down, crashes frequently, seems to be hotter than usual while running – then that could be a sign that your computer has been hacked and is running malware . Malware is often buggy and inefficient, which can lead to poor performance and multiple crashes.

Changes to your web browser

Has your web browser’s home page been changed without your permission? You might get hacked. Also, watch out for unexpected browser toolbars, plugins, and extensions, as well as a sudden increase in the number (and type) of ads displayed in your browser. Any of these are signs that you have lost exclusive control of your computer and hackers have installed malware on your browser.

Amazing webcam activity

Your webcam has a status light that lights up when it’s in use. If you see your webcam live unexpectedly – like when you’re not using any web chat software – it probably means you’ve been hacked. Criminals can turn on the camera to see if they can read passwords as you enter them on the keyboard or see other personal information.

How to prevent your computer from being hacked

Although there are serious risks from hackers, some common sense and simple precautions can protect you from hacks like this.

  • Keep your operating system up to date. First and foremost, make sure your computer’s operating system is up to date. Modern PCs and Macs install updates automatically, so make sure you don’t pause, disable or interrupt that process. For best results, don’t turn off your computer after hours; put it to sleep so that updates are installed automatically when you are not using them.

Windows Update in Settings.

Check your computer to make sure all the latest OS updates are installed.

Dave Johnson

  • Run antimalware software. Every computer should have antimalware and firewall software installed and automatically kept up to date. You don’t need an expensive third-party antivirus app; as long as you use the Windows Defender software that comes with Windows or XProtect for Mac, you should be protected.
  • Always use strong passwords. When you create accounts for apps and services, always use strong and unique passwords. That means never repeating the same password across multiple accounts — if your online storage account is compromised, for example, hackers won’t need to use login information to get into your banking app. And a strong password is a long string of numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA). No matter how good your password is, take advantage of two-factor authentication for any app or service that offers it. This prevents someone who cracks your credentials from accessing your account without physical access to the device (like your phone) that you use for authentication. Any type of 2FA is fine, but using an authenticator app that generates one-time codes every time you want to log in is much more secure.

Awthy two-factor authentication app for iOS.

Use two-factor authentication with an app like Authy to make sure you don’t get hacked using a username and password alone.

Dave Johnson

  • Do not use public or unsecured WiFi. Most public WiFi networks are not secure, which means your data can be intercepted while you’re online. Avoid using public WiFi, but if you must be extra careful when logging in to services that require entering a password for access, and especially avoid using banking and financial services.

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