Have I Been Hacked?
Do you know about Stealth aircraft? They are advanced technology aircraft designed to avoid detection using various technologies collectively called ‘stealth technology.’ Hackers are like stealth aircraft – they use ‘stealth technology’ to evade your ‘radar’ when they access your device.
Hackers prefer to access devices stealthily and do their dirty work unnoticed. As a result, it is difficult to know that your device, such as a computer, phone, network router, or tablet, has been hacked. You can only suspect, but you will not notice their activity.
However, there are some signs that indicate that a hacker may have accessed your device or network. We have mentioned these signs here below. If any of them sound familiar, then you are probably a victim without knowing it.
How to Check If I Have Been Hacked
If your device is hacked, you might notice some of the following symptoms:
1. You notice that your device has a decreased battery life.
You may notice that your device’s battery is draining more quickly than before. While a device’s battery life inevitably decreases over time, a compromised device will start to display a significantly decreased battery life. Your device may have malicious code running in the background. For instance, a spy app can be using up the device’s resources (battery power) to scan, monitor, and capture your activity and transmit the information to its owner.
2. Your device experiences sluggish performance.
You may notice that your device seems slower than usual. Malware running in the background can overload the device’s resources or clash with other applications. This may impact the performance of the device. Furthermore, malware transmissions may also slow down your device’s network connection. Malware can also make other applications continue running despite efforts to close them.
3. Your device is extremely hot.
The same reason that can make your device’s battery drain unusually faster can make it unusually hot because of the increased background usage.
4. You notice high data usage.
When you notice increased data usage, it can be a signal of malware on your device. Malware or other spy applications running in the background may use more data when transmitting information to their server.
5. Your device is sending or receiving strange texts or making or getting suspicious calls.
If you see texts or calls to or from numbers you do not know, you need to be suspicious. Malware could be forcing your device to contact these numbers or making them contact you to commit cybercrimes. You may also notice that your phone bill is higher than usual, which shows there is a miss and you need to take action.
6. You notice constant pop-ups.
You could be having pop-ups, but constant pop-up alerts are an indication that adware has infected your device. The strange pop-ups could also be as a result of phishing links that entice you to type in sensitive information – or download more severe malware.
7. Some apps stop functioning properly.
If you notice apps that usually function properly suddenly stop working, it could be a sign of proxying, or perhaps other malware is interfering with the functionality of the apps.
8. You see unusual activity on the accounts linked to the device.
If a hacker is able to access and take control of your device, they will also gain control of your social media accounts, emails, and productivity and lifestyle apps. You may notice this when your accounts or apps begin showing unusual activity. This may include sending emails, resetting passwords, or publishing strange social media posts.
9. New apps or programs suddenly appear.
Serious hacking can add malware to your device in the form of programs or apps. You may notice new apps or programs that you didn’t buy or install on your device. Such apps or programs are malware and a clear indication that someone has manipulated your device.
10. You notice strange browser activity.
Once a hacker gains access to your device, they can control everything on it, including your browsing activity. Strange browser activity is a sign of trouble. Your device may also attempt to access ‘bad’ sites that might expose your device to malware attacks. On some occasions, your network may become slower.
11. You notice unusual disk activity.
Hackers may use malware to disable your antivirus and then create havoc on your computer. When you notice that your antivirus suddenly turns off on its own, there could be a hacker at work trying to access your computer to steal your data.
13. Strange things happen on your screen.
Except for the usual intrusive, annoying online ads, your screen should not show any other onscreen surprises. If you notice strange things, such as new programs, flickering screens, toolbars, pop-ups, new programs or extensions that you didn’t have before, there is a higher likelihood that you have been hacked.
14. You suddenly cannot update your system.
On most devices, regular updates are essential. However, some malware, strategically planted by a hacker, may prevent your regular system updates by interrupting the latest system update downloads or antivirus updates. When you notice such an occurrence, you need to take action immediately.
15. The hacker tells you.
If the hacker tells you that you’ve been hacked, then your system has been compromised. The hacker can decide to tell you that they have taken control of your computer and encrypted your files and programs. They may demand that you pay a ransom for you to gain control of your computer. Ransomware attacks have become rampant, and they are dangerous.
Here is a point to note: If you are fortunate, you have never been hacked. Or you have already been hacked, but you are not aware. If that is the case, you need to realize it soon enough and take quick action.
What to Do If I Have Been Hacked
If you believe your computer, phone, or account has been hacked, there are a few things you can do:
1. Download third-party anti-malware or antivirus software and run a deep scan on your device to detect the malware and remove it.
2. If you already have anti-malware or antivirus software, update it and run a complete scan.
3. Update your software programs and apps, including your browser software and plugins, to the latest versions with security improvements.
4. Clear your browser history and remove all toolbars, plugins, and extensions.
If the problems you noticed on your device persist, you’ll need to be a bit more radical. You can do the following:
1. Back up your important files, then wipe everything off the device and restore it to its factory settings. Then reinstall all your apps from trusted providers.
2. Change all your passwords using a clean device and set new passwords.
3. If you cannot restore your computer to its normal working condition, consider carrying out a complete reformat to fix all affected software.
4. Lastly, if you feel that the device has been rooted by malware, contact your local IT professional or IT department as soon as you can to diagnose the problem and know the best way forward regarding your device.
5. Going forward, ensure you use trusted security software.
How to Prevent Hacking
In order to prevent unauthorized intrusion into your device, systems or networks, you can follow the basic security guidelines below:
- Always download software, music or videos from authorized or trusted websites. Websites that offer free music, videos and certain high-value software may also carry malware.
- Never click on random email attachments. Hackers have identified email as one of the biggest tools to help them spread malware. They hide it in email attachments and links.
- Use anti-virus or anti-malware tools to protect your device.
- Scan all hard drives before running them. You should scan all hard drives, such as external hard disks, flash disks, pen drives, or mobile devices, using your antivirus USB scanner to remove any malware stored on them.
- Never use easy passwords. Hackers can easily guess simple passwords. If possible, use password managers to help you manage your passwords.
- Install operating system and software updates regularly. When your OS is not updated, your device becomes vulnerable due to outdated software and drivers. Ensure you install your OS and software updates regularly.
- Use a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks. Hackers often use unprotected public Wi-Fi networks at airports, coffee shops, airports, or hotels to load malware on people’s devices and siphon off data.
- Avoid public chargers. Hacking through public chargers is called “Juice jacking”. Hackers now use public chargers at trains, airport charging stations, and hotels to target unsuspecting travelers. Hackers infect devices with malware through public USB ports or cables and then tap personal data.
Prevention is better than cure. The hope that your anti-malware program will detect hacking is pure folly when it comes to computer security and cybercrime.
Keep a keen eye out for these common signs of your device being hacked. Do not let a preventable account hack grow into identity theft. Do not wait until the situation is out of hand. In the event that you notice you have been hacked, always conduct a complete computer restore. You would rather start from scratch than become a victim of cybercrime. Above all, stay informed about the security features you need to have to keep your device safe from hackers.
We believe that the information in this article will help you to identify if your device’s security is compromised and know what to do if you have been hacked. If you have any other questions regarding whether you have been hacked or not, you can alert us through the comments section.