Sometimes, instead of using logic and reasoning theory, we follow our instincts to know things instinctively. Hacking is an example where this principle can be followed. We know that hackers can access your devices in amazing ways and express themselves in different avatars that we may not be aware of. IRC clients, Trojans, and backdoors are some of the malware used to hack computers. The least we can do is look for potential indicators that we may have been compromised, and then seek immediate action against it. Here’s how you can tell if a file is Your Windows computer has been hacked.
How do I know if my computer has been hacked?
You know that your computer has been hacked and hacked if you see the following signs:
- Your passwords or internet settings have changed
- The local account passwords for your computer have been changed or you see new user accounts
- You see strange “made by you” posts in your social feeds. Or maybe your “friends” are receiving inappropriate messages, allegedly from you.
- Your friends have reported receiving unwanted messages or strange emails from you.
- You notice that new programs or toolbars are installed on your computer.
- You receive messages from fake antivirus or other malware
- Your internet speed has become slow and sluggish
- There is a noticeable increase in network activity.
- Your firewall is busy blocking multiple outgoing connection requests
- Your security software is disabled.
- The home page of your default browser or search engine has been hacked
- Mouse moves automatically to make selections
- You start getting calls from your bank, credit card company, or online store about non-payment, low bank balance, unexpected outstanding balances, or purchases.
Let’s look at some of these signs in detail, in no specific order.
Change passwords online
If you notice that one or more of your online passwords have suddenly changed, then most likely you have been hacked. What usually happens here is that the victim inadvertently replies to a real phishing email claiming to be from the service and ends up changing the password. The hacker collects login and login details, changes password and uses the service to steal money from the victim or their acquaintances. Find out how you can avoid scams and phishing attacks and take steps to prevent your identity theft online.
As a damage control measure, you can instantly notify all your contacts of the hacked account. Second, contact the online service immediately to report the hacked account. Most of the online services are aware of this type of malware and have the strength and experience to restore normalcy and take back control of the account with a new password. You can restore the hacked Microsoft accounts, Google accounts, Facebook account, Twitter account, etc. using the properly defined procedure.
Amount missing from your bank account
In the event of a misfortune, you could lose all your money if a hacker gains access to your personal information (credit card, online banking details, etc.). To avoid this, enable transaction alerts that send you text alerts when something unusual happens. Many financial institutions allow you to set limits on transaction amounts, and if the minimum is exceeded or you move to a foreign country, you will be notified. It would be a good idea to follow these online banking tips.
Fake Antivirus Messages
Fake antivirus warning messages are among the sure signs that your system has been compromised. Clicking No or Cancel to stop the fake virus scan does no good because the damage has already been done. These programs often use unsurpassed software such as the Java Runtime Environment to exploit your system. One such common message is – Your computer has been hacked or hacked!
Lots of random popups
This problem is mostly related to your browsers and indicates that some unwanted software or malware is installed on your computer because websites usually do not generate malicious pop-ups.
Redirect your Internet or home page searches
It is a known fact that most hackers make their living by redirecting your browser away from the address you wish to visit. This is most likely because the hijacker gets paid by making your clicks appear on someone else’s website, often those who are not aware that the clicks on their site came from a malicious redirect.
You can often detect or identify this type of malware just by typing some very common related words into the search bar of popular search engines and checking if relevant results for your search appear. The traffic sent and returned will always be significantly different on a compromised computer compared to a non-compromised computer.
Does your computer act as a botnet node?
Botnets are networks of compromised computers that are controlled by remote attackers to perform illegal tasks such as sending spam or attacking other computers. Your computer may have been hacked and is behaving like a knot.
Point: Before continuing, you may want to read our article – Why would someone want to hack my computer?
What to do if your computer has been hacked?
1]If you suspect that your Windows PC has been hacked, you should disconnect from the Internet, boot into safe mode, and perform a full and deep antivirus scan. If your security software is disabled, use a good on-demand antivirus scanner. And run it from an external disk or USB drive.
2]You can also use specialized tools like Norton Power Eraser, anti-piracy software, or one of these Botnet removal tools.
2]You can remove fake browser toolbars with the help of a good browser hijacker removal software.
3]Open Control Panel and uninstall programs that may appear suspicious.
4]When connected to the Internet, open a command prompt, type the following command and hit Enter:
- Parameter that lists all connections and listening ports of the computer
- The -n parameter displays the addresses and port numbers
- The -o parameter displays the ID of the process responsible for the connection.
At a glance, the IT administrator will be able to monitor open ports and ongoing network activity in the system.
Check for any suspicious connections. Please note which connection appears – ‘founder’ and PID number and make sure all these connections are valid connections. If necessary, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to bring up the task manager. Then go to the Processes tab and click on the View tab, select Columns and check the PID column. Immediately, the full list of PID numbers will be displayed. Find the number you typed a few moments ago in the CMD window. If in doubt, stop the process.
5]Install a bandwidth monitoring tool so you can monitor your usage. Use packet sniffing tools to intercept and log network traffic.
Keep your operating system and installed software up to date at all times to close any software vulnerabilities and use good security software. Keeping abreast of these developments is essential because in today’s threat landscape, no antivirus software offers 100% peace of mind. To combat this, anti-malware programs that monitor program behaviors – heuristics – should be used to catch previously unrecognized malware. Other software that uses virtual environments, VPNs, anti-hacking software, and network traffic detection software can also be deployed for use.
6]Use Detekt, a free anti-monitoring program for Windows.
Here are some tips that will help keep hackers away from your Windows PC.
If you need more help, please see this malware removal guide. You may also like to read this article entitled How to tell if your computer is infected with a virus.