Am I being hacked? 4 ways to tell if your system’s been compromised
How do you tell if your computer or accounts have been hacked? Below are four, easy ways to tell if your system and/or accounts have been compromised. If you suspect your system or accounts are under any sort of attack, it’s important not to panic. Be sure to log the suspicious activity, report the issue and use trusted tools to mitigate the situation. We recommend a password manager, robust firewalls and a VPN as easy-to-implement preventative measures.
Login and Password Difficulties
If you can’t log in to an account or system, and you know you’re using the right username and password, it’s possible your account/system has been hacked and the password(s) been changed (especially when you use the same password across accounts). Another clear sign, you’ve been hacked, is if you receive password reset emails from your accounts that you have not requested. Even if your family shares your Netflix account, it’s unlikely that anyone who is not the account owner would be changing the password without consulting the account owner. And finally, if you have been locked out of your account(s), it’s plausibly due to suspicious activity on your account, which means you’re probably being hacked.
Be wary of phishing emails which could come disguised as legitimate emails from your accounts. Be sure not to click any links or open any attachments in such an email.
Your computer is acting like an autonomous being
If you are getting pop-ups when you’re not actively using your web browser, or there are excessive amounts of pop-ups and other software relentlessly infiltrating your system, either in-your-face or in the background, you’ve almost certainly been hacked. Another tell-tale sign you’re being hacked is when programs automatically run every time you start your computer, and you did not ask them to do so. On the flip side, if you are having a hard time shutting your computer down, or restarting, it’s also very likely you’ve been hacked. Hackers want to keep your computer on and maintain access for as long as possible. Finally, notice your antivirus software has been disabled? Registry editor? This is a sign you could have been hacked. Try reactivating and updating the software. If you cannot, you’ve likely been hacked.
Check your installed programs, login histories and settings
If you go into your control panel, and see multiple programs that you don’t remember installing, you’re likely being hacked. Similarly, check your login activity on your major accounts (mail client, social media accounts, etc.) if you see any suspicious locations listed under your login history, it’s another sure sign of a breach. Another account related tell, social media accounts specifically, is to see if your privacy/security settings have been tampered with. If someone is trying to leverage your Facebook account for spam, they will likely go into your privacy/security settings to maximize their efforts. If this is the case, revoke access from all active sessions, change your account password and change your email account password as well, to prevent further hampering.
I didn’t sign up for this!
If you have received emails from websites or software programs that you didn’t subscribe to or register for, it is possible that your email account has been hacked, or a hacker has other information of yours which they could use to sign you up for unwanted websites and programs. Be sure not to click any links or open any attachments in your email, if you suspect it’s been compromised. Again, any legitimate looking email asking you to reset your password, or seemingly notifying you of a security breach, it is very possibly a phishing attempt. If you notice large amounts of grammar and spelling errors, it is definitely a phishing attempt. Either way, do not open or interact with such a message.
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