Taking the time to learn about online safety, how to prevent hacks, keep your computer secure, and avoid the most common threats is all well and good. However, many of those tips aren’t going to help if you think you have already been hacked. Here, we’re going to look at how to handle getting hacked as well as possible. Try to stay calm, but it’s important to act decisively and quickly. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
Know the warning signs that you have been hacked
Before you jump to any conclusions, you should take the time to think about whether or not you really are a victim of hacking. There are a few signs of hacking that you should keep an eye out for, such as random popups or email password resets being sent to you that you didn’t request. You may find that you are being redirected to websites you’re not intending to visit when browsing the net. Another common sign is that your friends, family, and contacts will get suspicious or unexpected messages from you. If any of these happen without explanation, it’s time to suspect that you have been hacked.
Lock down your email account
If you have lost access to your email or you find that contacts of yours have been getting unexplained and weird emails from your address, then it’s likely that it has been hacked. If your email has been hacked, then you should assume that it’s an emergency situation. Use whatever options your email provider has to lock your account. Change the password if you can, apply two-step authentication so that the hacker would have to have your phone or another device to able to access it, and even consider creating a new email address if you’re worried about how compromised your current address is. Unfortunately, our email addresses are often so linked to other online as well as financial and business accounts that losing them can mean dealing with a major threat.
Get your other accounts back
If any of your accounts have suspicious activity on them, especially activity from an IP located far from yours, then they will usually send you a warning message, as well as methods on how to reset the account to lock anyone out. If you have lost something like a password manages password or an email account that can be used to access these other accounts, be they for social media, online subscription services, or otherwise, you should follow their instructions to reset them and lock the hackers out as soon as possible.
Let people know
If you’re hacked, then your accounts can become a risk vector for further attacks. Hopefully, friends and family should get in touch to let you know that they’re getting suspicious messages. Otherwise, if you lose an account that has the possibility to reach out to them, then you should get in touch with them as soon as possible, telling them to delete any suspicious messages, emails, or messages that are coming from you and to especially never click links that come from an account that you think you have lost, as it may be a phishing scam or a link that downloads malware, for instance. If you’re not able to get your account back, then they can help by flagging and reporting it, in the hopes that it might get taken down.
Monitor your bank activity
A lot of us have our financial details tied in with our other online accounts. This can include your bank account and other finances. As such, you should make sure that you keep a close eye on them, especially for any untoward transactions. If you have any reason to suspect that they are in your bank account, your PayPal or otherwise, then you need to get in touch with them as soon as possible and ask them to lock your account and help you recover it. Most banks will have some level of protection for your money so that you don’t lose everything, but you don’t want to take a chance on it.
If your PC is taken over
Most hacking attempts, and successful hacks, result in someone getting into your email or other accounts. However, there are cases in which someone might get remote access to your PC. You can check for the signs of remote access if you’re not certain. If you’re able to confirm it, or if you can actively see them controlling your PC, then you should immediately disconnect from the internet, change your online and device passwords, and use antivirus to hunt down and delete any malware. If you’re still getting remote access, then you might want to wipe the device entirely. Make sure that you secure your Wi-Fi router, as well, as it can be a method of attack.
If you get a ransomware message
A ransomware message can be one of the scariest things to receive. A ransomware attack is when someone gets access to your computer or accounts, and uses the threat of exposing or deleting your personal, private, and financial data to get you to pay them. For one, learn to recognize fake ransomware, which is becoming a very popular spam email as of late. If the ransomware threat is real, they will usually be able to prove it, by showing you that they have truly compromising data, or by using methods that show they have already gotten into your system. If you get hit by ransomware, there are steps to follow, including capturing proof, quarantining the affected systems, and reporting it to law enforcement. Whether or not you pay the ransom is something that you have to seriously consider, however.
If you have done all of the above but are still worried about the threat a hacker poses to you, or you’re panicking and not sure you’re able to handle the situation right, get in touch with your local computer security expert. Handing it off to a professional is sometimes the best thing to do.