Of course, the ideal solution is to avoid an attack in the
first instance. By using a combination of regularly updated antivirus, a VPN service, and security
best practices, you should be able to keep yourself protected. However, hackers
are constantly working to get around the latest patches and restrictions, and
are always on the lookout for new exploits and opportunities to attack. In some
cases, it can be difficult to tell if your device has been hacked. These
tell-tale signs will help you determine if you’ve been a victim of cyber crime,
and what can you do to protect yourself.
In the first half of 2018, global data breaches compromised
an estimated 4.5
billion data records worldwide. These attacks have seen millions of
people’s personal and financial information put at risk, and demonstrate the
need for security across all devices, whether business or personal.
A sure sign of an attack is a ransom message. Ransomware
attacks, such as WannaCry, typically install malware on your device which
blocks access to your data. A message will then appear demanding payment for
its release. Sometimes this may also include a timer that could see the ransom
rise, or threaten to destroy your data if it goes unpaid.
The best way to avoid ransom messages is to make sure you
are running an antivirus package that includes Ransomware Protection, but the
risk of losing data to this type of attack can be significantly reduced by
ensuring that you keep regular backups. This way, if an attack does occur,
you can simply restore your device.
Antivirus software is disabled
If you find your antivirus software has been stopped or Task Manager is
behaving strangely, there is a very high chance that your device has been
compromised. As it is unclear where the attack is originating from, it may not
be safe to use some applications.
As with ransom messages, the pre-emptive solution is to make sure that you
have kept a backup, as you will likely need to perform a complete restore of
your device. But before taking that drastic step, boot your device
into Safe Mode. This will restart your device with the bare minimum
running and may allow you to delete affected software.
Your device is very slow
Some forms of attack are far subtler. Rather than targeting your data, the
infected device may be used for background activities. This form of attack is
deliberately hidden, which could make it difficult to spot at first. But if you
are noticing that your device is significantly slower, or webpages are not
loading correctly, this may be a sign of an attack.
Despite their efforts to be discreet, this form of attack can be simple to
identify. Internet providers all track your data usage, and this information
will be available to you through your account. If you can spot spikes in
activity that do not match your typical usage, this could be a sign that your
device is infected and being used for cryptojacking, or as part of a
Suspicious social invitations
Friend requests are not uncommon across social media, but if you receive a
request from someone who is already in your network, be wary – this could mean
that your friend has been hacked, and has either had their account hijacked or
they are being impersonated.
The first thing to do is contact both the friend in question and others in
your social circle, warning them to not accept suspicious friend requests.
To protect yourself from similar attacks, be sure to use all the security
measures your accounts offer. In many cases, this includes two-factor
authentication and using strong passwords.
Your password isn’t working
Phishing attacks are one of the most common forms of cybercrime. By
targeting people with realistic-looking emails from reputable companies, they
are able to fool the user into sharing secure information. If one of your
passwords stops working, you should report this potential breach to the company
in question, either directly through their website or by phone. This way you
can confirm the validity of the emails you have received and if your account
has been breached.
While everyone knows that it is important to use strong passwords, in
practice there are so many accounts requiring different passwords that many
people prefer to stick to just a few, memorable passwords. While this might
make them easier to remember, they will also be easier to guess. In addition,
if passwords are reused it means that every account sharing the same password
could become vulnerable.
To be safe and secure, consider using a password manager. This tool will
store all your passwords, meaning that you can use complex passwords on all of
your accounts and you will only need to remember one.
Strange activity may not just be limited to the behaviour of your devices.
If you have become the victim of a phishing attack, you may notice through
suspicious activity on one of your various online accounts.
From unusual activity on your Netflix account to purchases you didn’t make
on your bank statements, being vigilant for suspicious transactions can help
you to spot them early and give you the best chance of cancelling unauthorised
payments. The activity may seem small at first, but if these test purchases
work, the hackers are likely to continue spending.