Getting hacked is no fun -- especially because by the time you realize it has happened, the consequences have started to multiply. But there may be signs that will tip you off if you’re paying attention. Here’s what to watch for:
1. Your friends tell you.
Whether they’re getting weird emails ostensibly from you or seeing you post scam-y weight loss-related posts on Facebook, friends are a great early warning system.
2. Redirected internet searches.
Hackers sometimes get paid for getting people to click on certain sites, so they may install code that redirects your internet searches or resets your default search engine.
3. Pop-ups are everywhere.
Hackers will sometimes install malware that causes pop-up ads to appear when you haven’t clicked on related ads.
4. Your passwords change.
Fortunately, a lot of sites will notify you when your password has been changed. So if Google tells you that your password was changed and you’re not the one who changed it, you’ve been hacked.
5. Your antivirus software has been disabled.
You probably know that disabling antivirus software is never a good idea. So if it’s disabled and you didn’t do it, a hacker probably did.
6. Your mouse starts to move on its own.
It’s possible for a hacker to remotely take control of your computer. If this happens, sit back for a moment and watch -- what are they trying to access? Then turn your computer off quickly.
7. Your webcam light turns on spontaneously.
Hackers can take control of your webcam and spy on you using your own computer. Creepy, no?
What to do
If you have been hacked, change all of your passwords as quickly as you can. A password manager like Dashlane can do this automatically for you. Tell your friends, so they don’t fall for a hacker’s link that looks like it came from you. Run a scan of your computer using your antivirus software to find and eliminate anything suspicious. Then order your credit reports -- and continue to monitor them for a few months -- to make sure the hacking hasn’t impacted your finances.
Getting hacked is a pretty terrible thing, but you can recover. Watch for the signs and act quickly -- then improve your security hygiene to prevent it from happening again.