A hacker is looking to worm his or her way into a network to do some damage that might include stealing personal data, email addresses, and more. If they’re smart, they don’t get caught. They take everything they can and leave without a trace, other than the trail of destruction like malware, confused friends, and sometimes, stolen identity or drained bank accounts.
While there’s no recent reliable data, in 2018, Inc. reported that more than 2.5 billion user accounts were hacked that year, highlighting the importance of taking action to prevent it.
Sometimes you can locate an IP address to find out who’s been accessing your network, with records often stored in a log. If it’s there, you can use an IP address lookup to find out where a computer is coming from, such as its country of origin, hostname, organization name, and other important information.
The best thing you can do is to use a strong password to prevent hackers from stealing precious information in the first place. But if you’ve already done that and are concerned that you might have been hacked, these five common signs say that there’s a good chance you have.
Your Device is Slowing to a Crawl
A slow computer is annoying, but it could be even more than that. One of the signs of malicious software is a slow device. Software that suddenly becomes sluggish, constantly freezes, or crashes is a symptom of a virus, worm, or trojan.
That’s because the malicious software typically runs in the background, taking up resources while it’s active. By going to Task Manager, you can see what processes your device is running. If there’s an application you don’t recognize eating your computer’s resources, it’s probably a virus.
Fake Antivirus Warning
A big red flag that your computer has been compromised is the fake antivirus warning. By the time you see it, the damage has already been done. You can’t click cancel to stop it because it’s already made use of unpatched software.
The warning is used to lure you in to purchase the product, which always seems to find lots of viruses. By clicking on the link, you’re likely to find a professional-looking website that asks you for your credit card information which is what the hackers want.
If you’re continuously getting browser pop-ups from websites that don’t usually generate them, your computer has been compromised. It’s worse than battling email spam, typically generated by a malicious mechanism that requires getting rid of deceptive toolbars and other programs.
In addition to the annoyance, criminals can use DNS hijacking to modify ads you’re seeing, replacing them with malicious ones.
Unexplained, Unusual Activity
Hackers dream of getting your passwords and usernames. Once they have those details, all they need to do is use some clever tricks to get access to your social media profiles, banking accounts, and other online services. Be sure to check the “Sent” folder in your email as well as your social media posts. If you see anything you know you didn’t send or post, you’ve probably been hacked.