The fear of being hacked is one of the greatest fears of the modern time. And it’s not hard to guess why. Hacking costs people (and businesses) a lot of money every year.
Of course, prevention is better than cure, but sometimes even after following the best cyber safety practices—not opening unsolicited emails, reading reviews before downloading stuff from the internet, and using a robust antivirus software tool—your computer might get hacked.
So, the question is: What next? What should you do if you find out that you have been hacked? And how can one be 100% certain that their PC’s security has been breached?
Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and much more.
How to Determine If Your PC Has Been Hacked
Hacking attempts range from obvious to very subtle, but there are some signs that point towards a comprised PC.
Erratic PC Performance
Has your computer become suddenly slow? Is your computer frequently freezing up?
Slow or erratic computer performance can be attributed to several reasons, but malware infection is the number one culprit. The next time your Windows computer seems painstakingly slow, perform these steps to find out what processes are causing the problem.
You can do so by performing the following steps (for Windows 10 and 11 users):
- Go to the taskbar’s Search box
- Type Resource Monitor and then click the best match
- In the Resource Monitor window you can check what processes are running and the amount of system resources each one of them is using
If you see a suspicious-looking process hogging the CPU, it would be worth investigating the matter further. The easiest way to do so is by running a full system scan using an advanced and reliable antivirus software tool. But before you run the scan, make sure your security software is up to date.
Most computer users (if not all of them) are no strangers to popup ads. While browsing, it’s common to come across them.
Just as a side note, some popup ads that you encounter when you browse websites could be phishing scams. So be careful of what you click on. However, right now we are not talking about these popup ads. Instead, we are referring to random popup ads that appear on your screen, sometimes even when you’re offline, imitating a legitimate service or application. Regardless of the message, these benign-looking-but-actually-very-dangerous popup dialogs is the same: to lure you in sharing your personal information.
Suspicious Email Activity
Certain email activities, such as your contacts claiming they are receiving strange emails from you which you had never sent, are a sure-shot sign of a hacked email account.
Appearance of Unknown Applications
Malware programs are notorious for installing applications on a compromised PC without the consent or knowledge of the user. So, if you see applications that you never installed, you have every reason to be suspicious.
What to Do If You Find Out You Have Been Hacked?
Start with damage control immediately. First, isolate your computer by disconnecting it from the net. Next, perform the steps discussed below.
Change Your Passwords
In case you believe one or multiple accounts have been breached, reset their passwords without any delay. To be on the safer side, we recommend resetting all your passwords.
And if previously you used a single password for multiple accounts, it’s time you correct the mistake. Having a unique password for each account means a single point of failure will not compromise all your accounts.
Run a System Scan
The next step is to immediately remove harmful programs or malware. Open your antivirus software and run a full system scan. If the software finds any dubious program or malware, it will recommend quarantining or deleting it. Do so without any delay and then restart your PC.
While you are cleaning your PC, it is a smart idea to open the Add & Remove features app and uninstalling any program that seems suspicious or that you don’t recall installing. You can access the Add & Remove features app from the taskbar’s Search function.
Check your latest banking Statement
It’s no secret that malware programs are designed to steal your money. Therefore, if you found malware on your PC, access your banking statements and check for any discrepancies. You can do so by directly calling the bank or downloading the statements from a safe device or machine.
How to Avoid Getting Hacked
As said earlier, when it comes to cyber security, precaution is better than cure. Follow these best practices to keep your data safe.
Use Strong Passwords
This is a no-brainer. Easy-to-guess passcodes or passwords are like locking your home when you go out but keeping the windows open. Avoid using your name or birth date in your passwords.
Don’t Share Personal Information
Let’s say someone walks up to you while you are outdoors and asks you to share your banking details or other sensitive data. Would you share them? Of course, not. So then why would you share personal data online with those whom you don’t know?
The internet world is filled with dubious characters who will go to any limit to get their hands on your personal data, like pretending that they represent your bank or any other service you frequently use. They may contact you through online chat, email, pop-ups, and other ways to convince you to voluntarily share sensitive data, including account passwords. Ignore such requests and block such persons immediately. Always remember that legitimate sources will never ask you to share your passwords.
Be Cautious While Surfing the Internet
Avoid clicking on popup ads, as they are frequently spyware. If you want to buy something online, directly go to the store’s official website instead.
Downloading software from dubious sources or downloading suspicious software is another big no-no. The easiest way to find whether a source or software is genuine is to check its online reviews.
Keep Your System and Software Up to Date
Keeping the system and software up to date ensures your computer will performs at its optimal or near-optimal level. No less importantly, it also helps you keep safe against intrusion.
System updates include security and other patches. Downloading and installing updates can help seal up known security vulnerabilities. Certain software, like device drivers, also often release fixes for known issues, which you should always install.
Keep Your Device Drivers Up to Date
Old device drivers can not only cause performance-related issues and errors but also pose a security risk. For these reasons, you should always keep your device drivers up to date.
You can update drivers manually (via the Device Manager utility) or automatically, using a reliable tool such as Driver Updater. This software updates all your device drivers automatically.
Always keep your Drivers up to date
Automatic driver update tools offer many benefits, the most important ones being:
- You can update device drivers automatically
- The software scans and updates all outdated or missing drivers at one go
- The tool picks the right drivers for your device and operating system, so you won’t have to worry about installing an incorrect driver by mistake
- Automatic driver updates are 100% safe
Driver Updater is one of the best driver update tools out there. Outbyte Driver Updater will give you access to a database of over 1 million drivers. It will regularly scan your PC, suggesting new driver versions to install. Driver Updater contains drivers for a variety of Windows devices. With just one click, you can update drivers in your system.
Scan all devices
Install or update drivers automatically