How to Tell If You’ve Been Hacked and How to Fix It
The digital age has so completely ingrained itself into our culture that it has become hard to imagine the world without it. Our money, our social lives, our very identities are all online. While +90% of the time this is an amazing convenience, there is an unignorably huge drawback: Hackers.
Getting hacked can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a life-altering experience. The reality that our information is never 100% safe is quite frightening if dwelled upon for too long. The earlier you catch the problem, the easier it is to repair. That’s why we are going to tell you the signs to look for that you may have been hacked.
The Big Slowdown
The more software your device has, the slower it is going to get. If you notice that your device has significantly slowed down, without you adding anything too it, odds are it is malicious software to blame. This software designed to work without you seeing it and is commonly known as a virus.
Potential Fix – If you can open a task or activity manager, it will show you everything running on your device at the time. If you see something foreign, it’s likely up to no good and should be shut down.
How You Got it – There are lots of ways viruses can end up on your device. Perhaps the most popular is clicking a link you shouldn’t have. These often come in emails and can be surprisingly good hard to spot. If you don’t know how to tell the difference, a good plan is just to not follow links from emails.
It All Comes Crashing Down
If the programs you use inexplicably start crashing (freezing or closing themselves) you almost certainly have a virus. Some might not open at all. This is a deep intrusion that is going to take more than just the task manager.
Potential Fix – Restart your device in safe mode and delete or uninstall any recent or weird programs you may find. You may even need to do a factory reset, which will erase everything and make your device like-new. This is one of the reasons it’s important to make periodic backups.
Why Are Viruses So Dangerous?
Different viruses do different things. Some monitor your activity, some monitor your keystrokes; however they go about it, their function is to steal your information. Viruses make it easier for hackers to access your various accounts.
With the right information, a hacker could drain your bank account, open credit cards in your name, or even commit crimes using your identity. It’s a major headache fixing all the things hackers break. For instance, it’s on you to make sure your credit score doesn’t reflect damage from a hack. Should you ever be unfortunate enough to have your identity stolen, this is one of the first places you’ll want to go: IdentityTheft.gov.
As bad as all that is, it gets worse. You don’t even need to be the direct target of hack to be compromised. When large companies like banks or credit bureaus get hacked, any information you have them becomes vulnerable. Social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, the hackers get access to them all.
These institutions have the strongest cybersecurity money can buy and yet they still get hacked from time to time. There’s nothing you can really do to protect yourself from this kind of hack. If it happens all you can do is damage control. You can check whether or not you were affected with a site like HaveIBeenPwned.com. You can freeze your credit if need be. Most of all, you have to stay vigilant. Your SS# isn’t going to change. That means if someone has it now, they can use it later.
Because absolute protection doesn’t exist, dealing with hacking is more a matter of reaction than prevention. I hope you never have to deal with it.