Hacked is a broad word, and typically doesn’t refer to only one type of data breach. However, no matter how your information has been leaked, infiltrated, stolen, or tampered with, it’s time-consuming and incredibly frustrating to clean up. The effort and resources necessary to deal with a hack can vary depending on how you respond, which is why today we are discussing exactly what you should do should you discover you’ve been hacked.
Red alert, data corruption detected.
If your personal information is released in a large scale security breach, such as occurred with Equifax, then a simple Google search will tell you if you’ve been affected. However, not all data breaches are this easy to detect. So how do you know if you’ve been hacked?
- Passwords no longer work
If you are suddenly having to recover passwords or answer additional security questions, you may have been hacked.
- Unusual activity or changed settings
If you begin to see unwanted notifications, pop-ups, or other indicators that your settings have changed, it’s a good idea to search for an intrusion.
- Slowed connections or other signs of malware
Users often notice a lag in loading speeds or processing as the first sign of malware detection.
- Files or applications you don’t recognize
It can be hard to notice every single file on your systems, however, staying organized may help you spot new or unwanted files.
- Unexpected charges
Always check your statements to be sure that the charges and the locations match your records.
What do do if you notice system disturbance
If you believe that you have been the victim of a hack, your first action should be to change all passwords immediately. Second, run a malware scan to search for any open entry points to your system. Do your best to determine where the hack originated. Check if there are any out-of-date apps or software, and make sure that your email accounts are secure before sending email.
Contact the official banking institutions if the hack involves payment information. If your hack is particularly severe or if you have been a victim of phishing or social engineering tactics, you may need to contact the proper authorities to report the hack. If you are unsure if you should report the offense, it is best to file a report just in case.
Most importantly, if the infiltration involves any information besides your own, including customers, it is crucial that you alert the affected parties immediately. Advise your contacts to change their passwords and inspect their own accounts as soon as possible. Be sure that you are available to offer assistance during the recovery process.
How to prevent hacking in the future
#1. Change passwords often.
Experts usually recommend that you change your passwords every 60-90 days. However, if you feel you are at risk of being hacked, be sure to change them much more often.
#2. Install a malware detector.
Install software to help you detect malware. Whether you choose a service like SiteLock or a download like Bitdefender or AVG, just be sure that you scan your systems often.
#3. Keep all user accounts up to date with appropriate permissions.
If you have additional users for your accounts and/or system, keep them up to date and only allow permissions that are absolutely necessary.
#4. Keep all software and applications up to date.
Make sure you update your system as soon as possible to patch any possible security breaches. Out of date plugins, widgets, and software are the leading cause of system corruption.
#6. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible.
Most email, social media, finance, and platform-based software encourage you to create two-factor authentication through your smartphone or another technical device. Use 2FA wherever possible to add an additional layer of security.