Identify if you’ve been hacked
Firstly, we will look at a few ways to determine if you’ve been hacked or not. Sometimes it can be very difficult to know! Usually there are several indicators that something isn’t right on your computer which can include a mix of the following symptoms:
1. Your anti-virus program has alerted you of a threat. Even more obvious if your anti-virus has been unable to quarantine the threat.
2. Your website browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer etc.) keeps loading the wrong pages.
3. Your computer is running very slowly, and the fans are making lots of noise.
4. A popup keeps appearing asking you to authorise changes to the system.
5. Friends and colleagues contact you to advise that you are spamming them.
6. Your computer keeps crashing and applications don’t load.
You clicked a link you shouldn’t have
Oops! It was inevitable, you’ve finally been fooled. You can’t take back clicking that link in that odd-looking email but now that you’ve been compromised this article will hopefully highlight what you need to do next. Depending on when you are reading this you might want to skip some steps to get straight the point of stopping the issue affecting others.
If your computer has been compromised and infected with a virus or other malware you need to act to keep your data from being destroyed and to prevent your computer from being used to attack other computers. Here are the basic steps you need to perform to get back to normal after you’ve been hacked.
Isolate your computer
Disconnect your computer from the network/internet as soon as possible. Remove the Cat5e network cable and switch off your Wi-Fi. Most laptops have a Wi-Fi switch on the side of them, don’t rely on what the computer software is telling you. Disconnecting your computer from the network will contain the virus or malware on your machine and will stop it communicating to other machines on the same network. Your colleagues will thank you for not infecting their machines!
Once you have disconnected your computer from the network be sure to shut it down to save as much data as possible from being damaged or deleted. It would be best to remove the power cord as well to be 100% sure.
Contact your IT department or IT support
It is important to let those who manage your IT network know about the issue as soon as you have isolated the computer as they can then respond suitably which will likely be a case of checking the network for anomalies and a site visit to collect the infected computer for forensic investigation and repair.
It is likely that once your IT department or IT support company have resolved the issue you will have a newly restored computer with a new account and email password. Although you should have a backup of the data not everyone does, on your machine it is not always guaranteed that data can be recovered after your machine has been compromised by malware or a virus.
Before you click on anything that’s been sent to you, think to yourself; am I expecting this email? Do I know the sender? If you answer no to any of these questions it might be worth contacting the sender to verify the emails authenticity. In today’s world of cyber criminals, it pays to be vigilant.