Although there are some types of malware that will broadcast their presence, for example locking your device and demanding a ransom to release it, many are designed to do their work quietly to avoid discovery. In a world in which threat levels are rising by the day, anti virus software has become less and less reliable and, in some situations, may give no indication that a hack has taken place. So, how can you tell if your computer has been compromised?
Fake antivirus messages
Unfortunately, once you see this type of message the damage has actually already been done and your computer is infected. The next step for the hacker will be to try and direct your to a thoroughly professional website that will encourage you to input your credit card details. Instead, power down your computer and switch it back on in Safe Mode. Try to uninstall any recently installed programs you don’t recognise and then do a full virus scan with your genuine antivirus software.
Unwanted browser toolbars
If you suddenly have a new, super helpful toolbar that hasn’t come from a recognised vendor then that’s a sign that your machine has been compromised. Don’t click anything on the toolbar. Most browsers will let you review and uninstall toolbars but if you find it difficult to do that then follow the same steps as above for the fake antivirus messages.
Frequent random popups
You can spot these easily if you’re suddenly getting lots of annoying pop ups from websites that don’t normally generate them when you visit. Check for malicious toolbars, as mentioned above, and then go through the steps already covered to remove anything unwanted on your machine.
If you find yourself locked out of online accounts then it’s highly likely that they have been hacked so you need to take steps to get control back by contacting the email provider. If your local computer passwords change then your machine is compromised – remember that there is no reason why these passwords would change of their own accord.
Friends receive emails from you that you haven’t sent
This type of attack has become much more subtle than when it first appeared – while in the past all your friends might have received a fake email from you, now only a select group of contacts will receive one. If anyone contacts you to tell you that they have received an email like this run a complete antivirus scan on the computer and reset all your email passwords.
System threats increase by the day, for both individuals and businesses so some form of infrastructure and security management is key to ongoing IT strategy. Invest in managed network services to avoid your networks being compromised.