In today’s digital landscape, an antivirus or anti-malware program gives little to no peace of mind against the threat of a cyber-attack. In fact, some of this software have horrific accuracy, especially when dealing with less than threats that are less than 24 hours old. Malicious programs and hackers can change their hacking techniques at will. They only need to swap a few bits around to make a previously recognizable exploit invisible to the security program. An average person, say someone operating a POS (point of sales) terminal, is likely to be hacked than a high-profile politician. However, at the end of the day, anyone who has access to the internet is vulnerable to a cybercriminal’s shenanigans.
The truth is that even the most self-aware and intelligent people can get hacked if they aren’t on their guard. Also, discovering that you were recently a victim can also be a challenge. There is a chance that the virus might be circulating on your mobile device or computer, even as you read this, waiting to strike.
However, there exist various tell-tale signs to indicate that you have a virus lurking on your device. They can either be a file that refuses to open or a straightforward ransom message from a hacker. To know about a few of these signs, keep on reading this article till the very end.
Unwanted toolbars on your web browser
This is one of the most common signs that somebody is trying to invade your digital privacy. Whenever you see browser toolbars appear out of nowhere stating they can help you find a long lost treasure, DON’T fall for it! Instead of finding that long lost treasure for you, hackers will make their way into your system and attempt to steal whatever data you may have. Unless you know that the toolbars are from a reputable vendor, it is time to click that microscopic uninstall button. And trust us, hackers will try their hardest to hide the install button from you.
To avoid installing such toolbars altogether, ensure that all your software is updated and avoid installing free toolbars that come along with other free software. Pro tip: always invest in genuine software, even if you have to pay for it.
Random pop-up appearing on your device while watching your favorite movie or series online is annoying AF! When you receive such pop-ups from a website you trust, it usually means that a hacker is trying to invade your device.
Being well-informed about cyber-attacks is always a handy skill. Completing a masters in cyber security online will make you the next Sherlock Holmes or True Detective of the cybercrime industry. But apprehending the criminal will still not be an easy job. You will be amazed at how malicious pop-ups can easily bypass a web browser’s anti-pop-up security measure.
We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but unwanted toolbars are one of the reasons these pop-ups appear. Uninstall them at once! Also, try not to visit any untrusted websites and always check their SSL certificates to ensure they are up-to-date. These also include porn websites. So yea, better be safe than sorry – pun intended!
Fake emails from unknown senders
Fake emails on your email account come at a dime for a dozen these days. Just like an unwanted toolbar, they promise to deliver you hidden treasures in exchange for contact details. In this case, the treasure is usually over one million dollar of inheritance money from your great grandmother, who just died of cancer! Please accept our deepest condolences.
In reality, after you click on a CTA or share information, these hackers also go through your contact list and send duplicate fake emails to your friends or family. And thus begins a vicious cycle of a spammy, infected chain of emails.
If this ever happens, open all your email accounts and change your passwords immediately. Some email services also provide you the facility to review your login locations. If you see any that you didn’t do, make sure to report them. Also, sign up for a two-step authentication on your email client. It will add an extra level of protection to your email account and personal information.
Random software installation
In the early days of cybercrime, hackers usually modified legitimate programs and tried to get into your system through them. They contained the same certification and digital signatures but had a bug within them that would compromise your system. For reasons unknown, most hackers now use worms and Trojan viruses. Such viruses are a buy-one-get-one-free option with other software.
When choosing software for your device, try to install the ones that let you select whether you want to install any other accompanying programs or not. However, the tricky bit is knowing which one is legit and which is a virus. If you already have a few of these free programs installed on your device and see pop-ups or other useless notifications regularly, disable them when in doubt.
When your mouse starts to move on its own
Unless you’re a staunch believer in ghosts and think they can also control your gadgets, your mouse cursor having a life of its own is a sure-shot sign that you’ve been hacked. You’re bound to have a mini heart attack, though probably not as big as one when, let say, important files disappear from your device! But, it warrants some attention when, for example, you are in between writing an article, and somebody else starts correcting your text for you.
There is no workaround for such a thing. The best you can do is disconnect from the internet, take out your hard drives, and trash your computer. Yep, pretty expensive solution! Furthermore, to check the level of damage that occurred, contact your bank and ask for transaction history. If there are no bogus transactions, then you have escaped by merely the narrowest of margins. If there are, ask your bank to provide you with a credit-monitoring service.
All your passwords suddenly change
If you wake up one morning to find yourself kicked out of your email or social media account and can’t seem to log bank in with the same credentials, you’re BUSTED! Here’s what probably happened: you clicked on a phishing email for some goodies, and BAM – the hacker then stole your login credentials, logged into your account, social media, or email, and changed your passwords.
If something like this happens, immediately notify all contacts about the situation. It will allow you to stop the hacker from affecting others because of your mistake. Secondly, contact your social media platform or email service and ask them to deactivate your accounts temporarily, again because of your mistake. Your mistake being, setting easily hackable passwords!
Most online services go through such a thing daily. They will guide you on what to do further if you want to retrieve your accounts.
These days, hackers have become aware and can infiltrate any antiviruses’ defenses with the blink of an eye. But, there is only so much that an antivirus can do for you. The onus is on you to be vigilant of warning signs of a potential hacking attempt. Adopt safe web-browsing practices, avoid opening any suspicious emails, and refrain from installing free software without authentication.