Cyber-crime is on the rise and with global cyber criminals making serious buck when it comes to their criminal activity, it’s up to us to defend ourselves. Much of cyber criminals success comes from exploiting the mistakes we as users make such as clicking on phishing links, forgetting to update software and failing to use multi-factor authentication on trusted devices.
The quicker that you find out about a compromise the better as the longer it goes on the more damage cyber criminals can do and the more expensive it may turn out to be. Here are 10 signs to look out for if you have become a cyber-crime victim.
This one may be the most obvious, but if you turn on your computer and/or device and find that you have a ransom message rather than your typical screen, the likelihood is that you have become a victim of ransomware.
Typically you will be given a timeframe in which to pay up, along with instructions of how you can pay your ransom in digital currently. The bad news however, is that even if you do pay, there is a high likelihood that you will not regain access to your encrypted files and/or your digital information may be shared on the dark web to other hackers who may try to exploit you further.
Slow Speed Computer
When malware, is installed on a PC often it slows the machine down. This is often seen too, when a crypto-jacking attack is taking place, these types of attacks use a lot of processing power and energy to mine for digital currency.
Slow running machines of course can also be the result of non-malicious factors, such as not managing files correctly within your system or excessive downloading, but it is good to generally get this checked.
Some spyware installed by hackers is not designed to take data from your device but instead installed to secretly switch on your webcam and microphone. By doing this cybercriminals may be recording videos or audios of you and your family to potentially use for blackmail attempts. By keeping an eye on your webcam light you van check to see if the machine becomes operational independently, alternatively you can purchase a webcam privacy cover to stick over your lens to provide added protection.
Another clear indicator that your device has been compromised is if your friends or family report spam coming from your email and/or social media accounts. This is a classic phishing tactic to hijack victims’ accounts and then use them to spam or phis to their contacts. This threat can be easily mitigated by ensuring that multi-factor authentication is turned on to give the device added security.
Pop Up Ads appearing on screen
Adware is a type of cybercrime that floods a victims computer with excessive ads and pop-up advertising, so if your device is being flooded with pop-up advertising, it’s a good indicator that you potentially have some unwanted software installed on your device.
Malware can also install additional toolbars on your browser. If you recognise that browsers have been installed that you do not recognise this is also an indicator that your machine has been hacked. Deleting the app and the tool bar could also be sufficient if the potentially unwanted application but for a more sophisticated attack, you may wish to restore your PC back to its factory settings.
When malware is installed on a compromised PC, you may see new desktop icons appearing, these are easily identified when a desktop is kept in a tidy fashion. If you have a busy desktop consider doing some file management tidying to keep better track of the icons on your PC.
Passwords/Log-ins Stop Working
If your computer is hijacked by hackers you may find that they have also hijacked your various online accounts, such as your email and changed passwords in order to lock you out. This can be one of the most frustrating parts of a cyberattack and can require a lot of back and forth with various online providers.
Your Data Circulating On The Dark Web
If you ever receive a data breach notice from a company you do business with, take these seriously and independently try to verify it. There are websites online which provide third-party confirmation of any breaches free of charge. Changing your passwords and or/freezing credit cards as well as setting up a credit freeze so that hackers can’t obtain new lines of credit too is advisable.
You get a warning from your security software
Warnings from anti-malware tools should also be taken seriously, although some fake computer security software pop-ups are a persistent threat. Check any messages or pop ups that you receive are from your legitimate computer software vendor and then follow the instructions to try and find and delete the malicious files on your device. Don’t also assume that the warning that your security software gives you means that it will deal with the specific threat.
If you do think your PC or device has been hacked the most important thing to do is not panic. Run an anti-malware tool from a reputable company to try and find and remove any malicious code from your devices. Once this has been completed try downloading and MFA app to mitigate any further risk of account compromise, you may also want to invest in dark web monitoring to see what has been stolen/exposed. If you are not confident that your PC has been fully restored make sure you do any password changes from another trusted device or contact your cyber security vendor or even your bank for further advice.