10 Signs You’ve Been Hacked

Geraldine Strawbridge


Every day, the news headlines are dominated by stories of large-scale cyber attacks and data breaches. We tend to think it’s just the larger corporations getting hacked, but there’s been a huge increase in attacks against small and medium-sized businesses.

According to Accenture’s Cost of Cybercrime Study, 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. Many just simply believe that they are too small to be attacked, so don’t invest in the proper security measures to protect their business.

Hackers are all too aware of this fact and will actively target smaller companies with more vulnerabilities to exploit. Many of these attacks will go undetected, as hackers work quietly in the background, infiltrating networks and infecting systems with malware.

Despite the increasing sophistication of these attack methods, there are often some tell-tale signs that can alert you to a hack before too much damage is done. Keep an eye out for these warning signs, and if you think that you might have been hacked, take immediate action to secure your systems and data.

10 Signs You’ve Been Hacked

1. Your files are encrypted
Ransomware files encrypted-1

The most obvious sign that you’ve been hacked is if your files are encrypted and a ransomware message flashes up on your screen. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that will encrypt your data and block access until a ransom payment is made. This is a worst-case scenario, but unfortunately, it’s become all too common and will require decisive action.

2. Your PC suddenly slows down

Is your computer operating at a snail’s pace? Have you noticed it freezing or crashing intermittingly? Any sudden changes in performance could indicate that your device is infected with malware or being hacked. Hackers will often install an application that runs in the background, taking up resources and slowing everything down.

3. You’re getting bombarded with random pop-up ads

If you’re getting frequent random pop-up ads from websites that don’t normally display them, it’s a clear sign that your device has been compromised. This type of malware can add bookmarks to dodgy sites, slow down your device and create spam messages that entice you to click through to further ads. These ads can install even more malware on your system, so whatever you do, don’t click!

4. Your mouse moves on its own

If your mouse is moving erratically all over the screen, it could be a sign of a technical glitch or problem. However, if it’s making clear purposeful movements, such as selecting programs or opening software tools, it’s a sign that your device has been hacked and is being controlled remotely.

5. You have unwanted browser toolbars

Has a new toolbar or plugin suddenly appeared on your web browser? If it’s something you don’t recognise or didn’t install, alarm bells should be ringing. These toolbars can redirect your internet searches or open the door to other malicious files. To be on the safe side, remove any suspicious toolbars from your browser.

6. Your internet searches are redirected

If you search for a website and are redirected to a completely different site, there’s a good chance that your device has been infected with malware. For example, your browser may normally take you to Google or your company homepage, but a hacked browser will take you straight to a malicious website. If this happens, don’t click on any links and close your browser immediately.

7. Your password doesn’t work anymore

Invalid password

If you’re getting locked out of accounts or platforms that you regularly use, you’ve more than likely been hacked. It’s possible that you’ve fallen victim to a phishing scam and that someone else has stolen your login details and changed your password. You will need to contact the online service to report the compromised account and enable multi-factor authentication to add a further line of defence.

8. Your friends receive strange messages from you that you didn’t send

You may discover that your account has been hacked when a friend alerts you to a suspicious message sent from your account. Once your account has been compromised, the attacker will scan your address book and send malicious emails or messages to everyone on the contact list. You will need to investigate this ASAP and advise your contacts not to click on any links within the message.

9. Unexpected software installations

If software suddenly appears on your computer and you have no idea where it came from, it’s a sure sign that your device has been hacked. Malicious software such as Trojans and worms can install themselves like legitimate programs and then control or modify existing software on your system. This unwanted software can sometimes be installed legally through other programs, so always pay close attention to license agreements and any mention of additional installations.

10. You notice unusual activity in your bank account

Suspicious financial transactions should act as an immediate red flag that your account has been compromised. Your device may have been hacked, or your personal credentials may have been leaked in a data breach. Whatever the cause, you will need to notify your bank immediately and reset your login credentials.

Protect Your Business from Hackers

If you spot any of the above signs, it’s time to strengthen your security so that you’re not vulnerable to any further attacks. One of the best ways to protect your business from hackers is by partnering with a trusted Managed Service Provider.

At Ortus, we work with hundreds of businesses to help keep their systems safe and secure. Using advanced security solutions and round the clock monitoring and detection, our goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly, so our clients don’t have to worry about downtime or security breaches. To find out how we can help protect your business, get in touch for further information.