7 Signs that Your Computer or Phone Is Hacked…and What You Need to Do about it

The main idea I want to discuss in this post is what to do when your device is compromised. If you have been hacked or a virus has been found on your computer, make a list of all the recent passwords to accounts you may have used. Remove your computer or phone from any internet or data connection. Change any of those passwords to your accounts on a clean system for safety and security. Get your computer and phone fixed and follow safe internet practices.

1.  Ransom Message

There are two main Ransom messages to worry about. The first is a pop up that says you need to call this number and pay the amount listed or that you are infected. If you can close that window it was just the fake exploit that is a minor Trojan in your temporary internet files. This one can be cleared by removing your history from your browser. Most of the time the pop up has an “X” to close it, however, that is the install for another virus. It is best to close suspicious windows using the keyboard hotkeys. Press ALT and F4 buttons on the keyboard to close a window. The second ransom message cannot be closed and has already infected your system. This infection is from a cryptovirus. Unfortunately, this virus has encrypted your data. Turn your system off and take it to a professional to save what they can. We do not recommend paying the ransom. Keep the hard drive separate from your computer and in time the codes needed to unlock the encryption may become available. It is a good practice to back up your data regularly to make sure you can recover from something like this.

2.  Microsoft Calls You

Microsoft calls you and tells you that you are infected and to let them log in to fix the system. Microsoft does not call you; do not go to the site they tell you to, do not give them a credit card, but you are infected, so that needs to be fixed. The people calling have exploited your data from your computer. Take your computer off of the network. Run your antivirus and Malwarebytes to see if you can find the virus that gave away your information. If nothing comes up, it is best to take it to a professional to find it. Also, monitor your bank account and credit cards closely. To avoid this situation, you need to be careful on clicking on ads on some of the sits you visit. They typically trigger a javascript that installs the exploit to find you.

3.  Anti Antivirus

All of a sudden, an antivirus appears and tells you how you are infected and there are a number of system optimizations that they can do too. But the software costs money to finish the job. This is not an antivirus, it’s malware. Uninstall it, run your virus scan, and monitor the system when you go online. If it is slowing down, you may need to take it to a professional to remove the rest of the malware that did not uninstall. Typically the malware also acts as data mining software to track you and gather information on what you do. Even other popular antivirus software like Norton and Mcafee perform data mining to collect information on you to profile you as a marketing statistic. We recommend Gdata or Avira Antivirus. They have been the most reliable antivirus software we have worked with.

4.  Programs and Apps are Crashing

Well written viruses and exploits typically disable applications and resources to use for themselves. Your antivirus may stop working, applications you normally use start crashing and blue screening the computer. When this starts to happen, it is best to be disconnected from your internet or data connection and put your computer in safe mode to see if you can get your antivirus to scan. Also, take a look at any new applications that have been installed and remove them. As for your smartphone, take a look at what is using up your battery and remove it. If it is the operating system, you may need to do a factory reset on your phone. Next to Microsoft’s Windows operating system (OS), the number two most hacked OS is Android. Another popular antivirus that we would put in our top 10 is Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Lab products for mobile devices detected:
    • 1,322,578 malicious installation packages
    • 18,912 installation packages for mobile banking Trojans
    • 8,787 installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans

This company also makes a rescue disk that may help. If the free options do not work, you may have to bring it to a professional to have your data backed up and your OS reinstalled.

5.  Everything Gets Slow

The frustrating point where you need your computer and all of a sudden it seems to take forever to get anything to open or come up. WHY!? You do that CTRL ALT DELETE thing to find your processor is running at 100%. You look a little more, and you find system files that are running doing something that is using up all of your CPU’s power. You try to delete the files but you can’t. You reboot to safe mode, and you can’t find the file. The virus scan finds it and deletes it. You reboot and there it is again. You have a worm. So you work on removing the worm; however, you can’t do it unless you boot into a different OS or remove the drive to view in another system. If you are not comfortable doing this due to the risk of physical damage to the computer, then bring it to a professional.

6.  Where Did that Toolbar Come From?

In your browser, you have a strange icon or a toolbar at the top that you are not sure what it is or how it got there. You press it and now the browser tells you that you have computer issues or it tries to sell you something. You can always Google the name of the toolbar to learn about it, but it is best to remove it. Depending on how it was installed, it may have access to your saved passwords. So now you need to change your passwords again. Before you install any toolbar, make sure you read up on it and find out more about what the company does. If you can’t find a company that it is associated with it, that is the first sign not to install it. There are also browser extensions that cause similar issues to toolbars. Be careful when downloading these tools or themes that claim to make your browser better. They are all related to a website. Web of Trust (WOT) will tell you if the website is good. They also have a browser bar to give safety reading to sites. Some extensions and toolbars are helpful. You just need to do the research to find out about them and read the reviews and terms that it installs with it.

7.  Your Searches Are Taking You to Sites You Did Not Click On

You have a redirect virus and you are probably getting pop-ups. Not always the easiest to get rid of. The easy ones are attached to a browser extension or a toolbar. Remove the software that you just installed. The next place these viruses like to hide is in the temporary internet files. Clear your history and delete the temp files. Run your virus scan and reboot your computer. If it is still there, then take it to a professional. And keep an eye on your accounts, reset any passwords that you may have used recently.

With all the virus, malware, and scams on the internet, you can be safe by following search practices and make sure you monitor your account and credit score to stay on top of any issues that can and will occur.