Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Antimalware software doesn’t scan hacks accurately. So, it would be pretty late when you find out you have been hacked.
And this gets scarier when you discover than not even heuristics scanners nor network traffic detectors are capable of spotting criminals or malware right away.
Hacking techniques evolve as fast as cybersecurity tools do so. So your best chance? The old-fashion way: knowing the signs and acting before it gets worse.
Here there are 13 signs that alert you of being hacked + a few fast solutions.
1) Password isn’t Working
You type your password online correctly, press ENTER, and your heart stops beating… Because “it’s incorrect.”
While there’s a chance this could be a minimal technical issue from the site’s server, it is still unavoidable to think you have been hacked from the first try.
If you try again a couple of minutes or hours after the error shows up, then you’re screwed. A hacker logged-in and changed the account’s credentials to keep you out.
They frequently get this information from phishing emails, claiming to be the service company where you’re registered on. And because they do this to steal you directly or disguise as your persona (to steal others)…
You should right away and contact your close contacts about the sinister.
Then, report to the service and proceed to restore access to your account.
Put some extra security measures in place (2FA) and prevent fishy links at all costs.
2) Money is Missing from your Online Bank Accounts
And I’m not talking about little money.
Instead, cybercriminals are capable of login directly into your online bank account or stock trading company service. After that, they’ll probably leave you on zero, transferring all of it to themselves.
In the first place, you can prevent this with Transaction Alerts texts that let you know if something out of the common happens to your account.
Fortunately enough, financial institutions tend to replace stolen funds (if they’re proven to fail to protect it). But, this won’t happen 100% of the time.
3) Social Media Messages & Invitations that you Never Sent
It’s quite suspicious when you receive an invitation from a friend… to “become a friend.” They think the same way if they receive a friend’s request from you.
You can also receive a message from a social media friend that says: “what is that?” after you “sent” a random message with an image and link attached.
Both situations indicate that you’ve been hacked.
Spread the news of the infiltration as soon as you see this happening.
Tell them to NOT click on the link, or accept the fake account friend’s request.
Change your password as soon as possible, and check out any third-party social media application. Remove those that you suspect to be rogue ones.
4) “You’ve Been Hacked”
Fun fact: More companies were notified that they were hacked by unrelated 3rd-parties, than those who self-detected the attack. That’s what Verizon reported.
It’s more common than what you think.
If someone notifies you about your site, server, or data files being hacked, make sure this truly happened. Confirmed? Follow your emergency response plan.
If you don’t have one, then craft one now and practice with all stakeholders.
5) Inconsistent Network Traffic Patterns
DOS and DDoS attacks are frequent traffic uprisers.
If your company’s web servers start to receive inconsistent network traffic from sites you usually don’t receive from, then it might be a clear sign of a hack attempt.
Slow network connections can also indicate that the IT or entire server is under attack. Botnet attacks often go undetected and only a well-prepared IT security team can rapidly get into action to make it stop.
Of course, what they would do is to kill the entire network connection and start investigating the traffic sources and patterns.
If you don’t have the team in place, you could either do it yourself with a reliable tool or contact us to do the hard work for you.
6) Random Mouse Movement
While mouse pointers can present hardware problems, most spooky random movements proceed from hack interceptions.
You can be sure it is the latest if the mouse decides to run particular programs.
While it’s not that common, you can suffer a huge jumpscare if you ever find out that your computer is “possessed”, trying to break into your valuable, private accounts.
This can be stopped easily, just turn off the computer if you see “it is alive”. Call a professional to help you get the threat out of your network or device.
In the meantime, use another device to check your bank accounts and valuable files, and change your login credentials before it is too late.
7) Unexpected Installations of Software and Extensions
Trojans and Worms tend to install themselves as legitimate software programs and toolbar extensions.
What’s worse, is that you can accidentally install these through the wizard of legal programs. You can cancel the installation, but they make it hard to detect.
TIP: Read the License Agreement – at least most of it – to see if this is the case.
You can also use the virustotal scanner whenever you decide to download something online
When doubtful toolbar extensions, just open settings and remove it completely.
8) Device and Data Usage Higher than Normal
Have you noticed a considerable lag on your computer or smartphone?
Is it freezing or crashing?
There’s a great chance you’ve been hacked.
This a clear sign when malicious software runs in the background, either to eat your device’s or network’s resources. This was very common with Cryptojacking.
If your computer is the one suffering, you can uncover the threat both on Windows (Task Manager) and Mac (Activity Monitor).
For Windows: Use the keyboard shortcut (CTRL + SHIFT + ESC), and access the “Processes” tab to see all the current tasks your computer is currently running (and how much processing power they occupy).
Close any program that you aren’t using, especially if it’s taking too much CPU.
For Mac: Press Command + Spacebar and type “Activity Monitor” to display a list of the current processes (with CPU, Threads, and Network usage data).
But if we talk about an exaggerated spike of bandwidth consumption, then a comparison of the data usage meter/monitor should clear suspicion out.
The same happens with Wi-Fi connection, when a video keeps buffering all the time (and you’re sure about the connection being strong enough).
Connection piggy-banking and DNS Hijacking are real threats.
9) Random, Annoying Pop-ups
Ads are getting more intrusive every time. But there are some annoying, sometimes hateful pop-ups that shouldn’t appear on the sites you frequently visit.
You can differentiate them from others in big media sites due to the exaggerated promises shown.
In the meantime, I can tell you good and bad news.
Bad is that there are just a few tools in the market that can get rid of it. But good because they come from malicious software or toolbar extensions.
So, they go away as soon as you clean the root program.
10) Fake Antivirus Alert
There’s only one thing more annoying than a random pop-up.
A fake antivirus alerts that pretend to scan your computer or mobile device.
They can be in your already compromised system, or waiting for you to click on something that accidentally injects the real virus inside.
Not a common threat as it was years ago, but they still flow in the dark, world wide web waves. Now, stronger than ever: some lock you with the decision of either install or restart the computer/device.
If this happens on your browser, you can force the reload to vanish it away.
But if it’s already inside your computer/device (due to unpatched software, or so), then try saving files and folders in a cloud-based app. Turn everything off afterward.
The restart could provoke an OS wipeout.
This type of threats tend to disguise as Malware protection soft.
11) “YOUR FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED” Ransom
There’s something annoying (or in this case, scarier) than receiving those messages.
This is the worst you can see on your computer or smartphone screen.
A ransomware sign will appear only after your devices have been hacked, asking for payment to unlock your now-encrypted, valuable data.
Mid and large-sized businesses are a frequent target of this cyberattack, which, unfortunately, 40% of the time they don’t recover their data back.
They can’t be forced due to the special focus hackers put into making it bug-free.
This is a great reason why you need a tested, offline data backup in place. To avoid a massive loss (sometimes billionaire) takes place
Still, don’t get overly confident. Even cloud storage services can present issues in the most inconvenient times. If this happens, contact tech support as soon as possible and recover everything back.
There’s an alternative, but a less probable solution to Ransomware attacks: Search the name of the threat itself and seek through several websites sharing its specific encryption key.
12) Confidential Data Leaked
If you’ve been hacked, you can either get a notification from a friend, colleague, partner organization, or the hacker itself.
Although sometimes, the hack might be first noticed by the Media.
This is in most cases due to a huge data breach that ends up leaking confidential information.
The best you can do at this moment is to keep calm and find out what needs to be communicated to whom by when.
In most cases, this involves legal participation. And depending on the country, the report could be needed inside the 72 hours frame.
13) Login Credentials “Dumped”
Losing the team’s members and customer’s information can cost millions to your company.
But losing the login credentials of everybody included might represent the imminent shutdown.
The dark web and other deeply-hidden internet sites serve as a dump of login credentials stolen through phishing, malware, or plain database breaches.
In this case, you’ll have to proactively look for your data – or receive expert help from commercial data and credential services.
Paying their fee and detecting this dump early can save your company’s life. If you pay the fee and find out.
Knowing that you’ve been hacked is easier than you think – but not less scary.
And if most antimalware software and similar tools don’t deliver as promised, then your best and probable only choice is to detect the symptoms yourself.
Take the time to prevent it with all the tips exposed. And hire reliable cybersecurity solutions that protect your day-to-day peace of mind.