Security 101

My Computer Was Hacked! 3 Things To Do Immediately

If your computer or phone is acting strange and you suspect you’ve been hacked or infected by a virus, you may be right. According to a Duke University study, at least 80% of all US-based companies have suffered an attack and that number is only set to rise. These breaches on average cost US organizations an average of $3.86 million, according to an IBM security audit. 

 When hackers target business organizations, they are after personal and financial data, trade secrets, and access information in order to extort victims or breach sensitive data. In 2017, HBO was the target of hackers who stole thousands of internal documents

If your PC has been hacked or infected with malware you must take quick action to protect your information and prevent the attack’s spread through your digital and professional network. 

These are the three steps you need to take immediately when your computer has been hacked. 

****, my computer was hacked! 3 things you should do immediately

Be vigilant of what networks your computer or laptop is connecting to.

1. Quarantine Your PC

LifeWire suggests you isolate the infected computer as soon as possible. As long as you’re connected to the internet, the hacker has access to the device and its directory.

No need to cut the network cable. Simply unplug your computer from the network and avoid any kind of wireless or physical connection. The goal is to prevent the virus from spreading!

Make sure you’re offline and turn all Wi-Fi connections off, both by software and hardware. Some laptops even have a switch for this.

Why disconnect hardware? Hacking software is sophisticated and can make your computer seem like you are disconnected while the malware continues to wreak havoc in the background. 

This is why it’s increasingly important to ensure your sensitive data is encrypted and that your devices are protected by security management software.
Features like device tracking, file retrieval, and remote wipe adds layers of security against not only hackers but also thiefs. If you need a device security platform, we can help.

2. Change your passwords

According to Betterbuys, “it only takes five hours to decipher a password that’s 6 basic characters long”. On the other hand, if you pick a password that’s 12 characters long, it’ll take a massive two centuries to crack.

That’s why the first step is: change your PC’s access password.

And then change all your passwords using an unaffected computer or smartphone. I mean it. Email, social, subscriptions, etc. Every service you have access to holds precious information, including billing information and personal data.

According to CybInt, 95% of breaches are caused by human error. What this means is that you could have unknowingly given enough identifying information for a hacker to guess your password. It could also mean that you’ve mistakenly run an infected program or document that contained malware. Verizon found that 45% of breaches featured hacking, 17% involved malware and 22% involved phishing. 

How many of your accounts use the same password or variations of it? One password could be enough to grant access to all sorts of accounts. So double-check its strength and think it through.

According to CyberSecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), there are a few criteria you should follow when creating a safe password.

  • It should be between 8 and 64 characters (longer the better).
  • It shouldn’t include personal information, like your name, your birthday, or your company’s name. Get creative with it, have fun!
  • It has to be different from your previous ones and from your other passwords. 
  • If possible don’t include complete words.
  • Use mnemonics and memory techniques. For example, instead of using “hoops” try “IlTpbb” for “[I] [l]ike [T]o [p]lay [b]asket[b]all.”Create it using characters from all four categories: lower and upper case, numbers, and symbols.

Using a password manager makes changing passwords a breeze and also gives you added security benefits such as Two-Factor Authentication and issuing temporary passwords.

3. Alert those connected to you

Hackers try to spread by breaching an individual and then targeting their network..  Intego also explains that the reason is simple: hackers use your email to send messages pretending to be you because your friends are more likely to open messages from you without thinking. 

So before you spam a virus to your family, friends, and coworkers… Give a heads up. Protect your core group and notify them immediately to avoid spreading the attack..

Conclusion: Be Ready To Act

Prevention is the cornerstone of virtual security and the best defense against hackers. Turn off your computer when you’re not using it; save sensible files on portable HDDs; keep your operating system and antivirus software up to date, and don’t forget to encrypt your data.

These tips are both effective and super easy to implement.

Cybercrimes are a real threat, and the steps outlined here are only a quick strategy to respond to hackers once they’ve already infected your computer. But you should be prepared well before this point by practicing good cybersecurity hygiene.

Beat the hackers. One app, one account, and a single online hub to find, lock. and secure all your gadgets. Get Prey. 

If you act quick enough, you’ll have a key advantage that makes all the difference when trying to recover your files and minimize the damage. Time to get ready!

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About the author

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi is the head of mobile research at Prey, Inc., provider of the open source Prey Anti-Theft software protecting eight million mobile devices. Nic’s work explores technology innovations within the mobile marketplace, and their impact upon security. Nic also serves as Prey’s communications manager, overseeing the company’s brand and content creation. Nic is a technology and contemporary culture journalist and author, and before joining Prey held positions as head of indie coverage at TheGameFanatics, and as FM radio host and interviewer at IndieAir.