As modern-day users of devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, we are all vulnerable to the threat of hackers gaining access to our personal information. In fact, according to a study at the University of Maryland, nowadays there is a cyberattack as often as every 39 seconds.
Everything we do online holds value – from online banking to browsing social media, to watching Netflix. If one account is compromised, stolen login information could be used on other sites across the internet, which could lead to financial losses or reputational damage.
The problem is, the warning signs can be hard to spot. So, we’ve put together 3 telltale signs of hacking, and what to do about it!
- You can’t log in
If you attempt to log in to a platform or website that you use regularly and your login credentials no longer work, this could suggest that someone else has taken control of your account and changed your password to lock you out.Phishing emails are often the culprit of login issues. Such scams redirect you to a page that looks like a familiar reputable business and prompts you to enter your account details. Unknowingly, you hand over your data to the hacker, which they can use to log on and take over your account.
What should you do?
Immediately request a password reset and change your password if you are able to. If offered, opt to activate two-factor authentication (2FA) too. This offers an extra layer of protection, where another piece of information, on top of your password, is required to login to a service, such as biometrics or a One Time Passcode.
If you cannot recover your account, you will need to get in touch with the service provider immediately, so that they can suspend the account and verify your identity.
- You notice unusual behaviour
The account that someone is trying to hack may warn you about unusual login attempts. For example, Google and Facebook will send email notifications alerting you of both failed and successful sign-ins from unfamiliar locations.Most social media users are familiar with receiving strange messages – often with a malicious link – from a person on their contact list. The hacker uses your account to send a message to all of your friends, usually asking for help with money. The more advanced the criminal, the more the message could sound like you, increasing the likelihood of one of your friends clicking on the link.
Similarly, friend requests from people you are already friends with should raise alarm bells. Usually, the new social media site is devoid of any other recognisable friends, and no previous posts or photos.
What should you do?
Firstly, contact the social media site to report the hacking. Then, warn other friends not to accept the friend request or open the link on any messages from you. If you are not completely locked out of your account, change your password and enable 2FA immediately and log out of all devices to lock the hacker out.
We’ve become so accustomed to social media that it can be easy to forget about the risks. Think about reviewing your privacy settings, to make it harder for people to target you.
- The hacker tells you
One of the most obvious signs you’ve been hacked is simply being contacted by the hacker and having them say so. This could be via email, direct message, or through malware on your device, such as ransomware.The hacker will usually let you know that they’ve compromised you and then provide some form of evidence. This will then be followed by some sort of demand to unlock it – most often payment in the form of cryptocurrency.
What should you do?
Just because someone says they’ve managed to hack you, doesn’t mean they have. Many scammers trick victims by showing them that they have their password for a specific account. Usually, the scammer has pulled an old password and hopes to scare you into paying. If they actually had access to your account, they’d be able to demonstrate it by encrypting your entire device.
If you are a victim of ransomware, contact your service provider and let them know that your account has been compromised. Never give money to hackers – it is unlikely to help you and will only strengthen them. Most of the time, paying the ransom does not result in working systems, with most victims still ending up with many days of downtime.
For businesses, the best protection is to ensure you have a recent, tested data backup of the impacted systems. This way, you can wipe the infected machines and restore your data from backups.
The best way to limit your chances of being hacked is to improve your overall online hygiene. Think about how much information you are proactively putting out there, and how secure it is. Use a password manager to create and store strong, unique passwords.
The majority of hacks don’t become a real threat without human action, so if you are cyber smart, you can often diffuse the situation before any serious damage is done!
At Hyve, we are cybersecurity experts. We provide continuous protection against a range of attacks – find out more information here or contact our sales team on 0800 612 2524.