One of the most Googled questions ever is How do I know if my PC has been hacked?
And sure enough, it reflects a common fear in this digital age. Few things are scarier that someone intruding on your privacy, spying on you, or stealing your files.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are things you can do to keep and your data safe.
Let’s dive right in.
Tell-tale signs your PC has been hacked
There are many unknowns when it comes to hacking, especially since most hackers keep a low profile, in an attempt to siphon data for longer. And it doesn’t help that you need a bit of technical know-how to identify legitimate threats to your privacy.
For example, back in the mid-2000s, slow computers were the biggest scare. But the culprit was usually a shady toolbar in your browser.
But today, you may need a bit of help distinguishing between stealthy malware and your computer just acting up because of old age. And that’s why I’m here for you.
Here are the nine things you need to look at if you suspect your PC might have been hacked.
1. Your cursor has a mind of its own
If you can see your cursor moving around your display, click on programs or links, it’s really bad news.
It’s a clear sign your PC is being controlled remotely, and you need to act immediately.
2. You get frequent pop-ups
Some websites are specifically designed to pester you with ads, but if you get pop-ups when you’re not browsing the web, it’s a red flag.
Keep an eye out for pop-ups encouraging you to visit questionable websites and don’t click them.
3. You’re sending spam mails
You might not notice at first, but if someone lets you know you’re pestering them with spam, check your email.
It might turn out you have been unwillingly spamming your contacts. Do not click the links in those emails and advise your connections to do the same.
4. You’re spamming on social media
Just like the spam emails, you might discover suspicious posts being shared or DM’ed from your accounts. But it’s unlikely that you’re going to notice this very quickly.
If you come across such suspicious activities, it’s a sign your credentials have been compromised, and you need to investigate it ASAP.
5. You see increased network activity
Malicious software will often transfer your data to the hacker, trying to connect to the internet as soon as you boot your PC.
This type of transfer generally leaves a mark on your network activity, so monitor your traffic for suspicious spikes.
6. You have unknown programs on your device
Did you notice some weird programs in your Task Manager, or unknown software running when your PC starts?
If you’re suspicious about the software on your PC, check out Microsoft’s Process Explorer. You’ll find out what each program is doing and why it’s running in the first place.
7. Your PC has slowed down drastically
Does your PC freeze randomly or crashes willy-nilly? Are you stuck under 30FPS, despite it being a powerhouse?
Well, it might be that some type of malware it eating away at your PC’s resources. Check your GPU’s power consumption to make sure everything is OK there.
8. Your antivirus stopped working
Check your antivirus. Has it suddenly changed settings to the point where it no longer scans or shows notifications? Did you stop getting automatic updates?
If you didn’t do this yourself, then it’s a cause for concern.
9. You’ve been locked out of your accounts
If this isn’t a case of a mistyped credentials, you might be dealing with an account that’s been taken over. From your social media accounts to emails, banking details to even streaming subscriptions, it can be anything.
So, it’s always a good idea to preemptively enable account recovery.
When you get hacked, many of the solutions depend on your particular circumstances, the methods used, and the vulnerability exploited.
And when your antivirus can’t sort out the problem, most people resort to wiping out their device. As you can imagine, this is far from ideal, so prevention is the way to go here.
Here’s what you should do.
Instead of hacking to deal with a hack’s aftermath, invest your energy into bulletproofing your privacy. A little goes a long way.
Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below. 😊
Until next time, stay safe and secure!