Given the ubiquity of today’s cyberthreats, antivirus software alone provides woefully inadequate protection. Hackers change their tactics by the day, looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit. That’s why any decent antimalware solution offers heuristics scanning to identify suspicious behavior rather than malicious code alone.
Even so, there’s no substitute for learning to identify the signs yourself. If your computer has been compromised, then it will likely exhibit some of the following characteristics:
#1. Ransom Messages Start Appearing
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing cyberthreats of all, as illustrated by this year’s WannaCry and Petya attacks. If your computer is infected by ransomware, a ransom note will appear attempting to extort money out of you to decrypt and regain access to your files.
Ransom messages normally appear at system boot or immediately after you log into Windows. Another sign of a ransomware infection is when filenames inexplicably start changing as they’re encrypted.
#2. Unwanted Toolbars Appear in Your Browser
Usually more of an annoyance than a very serious cybersecurity threat, unwanted toolbars typically appear in your browser when you install freeware or shareware programs without paying attention to the settings during installation.
Aside from this common type of bloatware, some unwanted toolbars can point to a serious problem, such as an infection by rogue antivirus software. Unwanted toolbars can be difficult to remove, particularly if they appear without your express permission.
#3. Internet Searches Get Redirected
If your browser homepage has been inexplicably changed or internet searches are getting redirected to an unfamiliar search engine or other webpage, then your computer may have been compromised by a browser hijacker. Again, this sign can occasionally point to semi-legitimate software that came packaged with some shareware, but it’s never something you want to have on your computer. In worst case scenarios, you can be redirected to dangerous, malware-infested websites.
#4. Suspicious Messages Keep Popping Up
A common sign that your computer has been hacked is when suspicious messages keep popping up. Oftentimes, these messages may be trying to encourage you to purchase rogue antivirus programs or other useless software that serves no purpose other than to bombard you with advertisements. These random popups are often the result of the same sort of malware that hijacks your browser or installs unwanted toolbars.
#5. Your Firewall Has Been Disabled
Certain types of malware are designed to lower your computer’s defenses to provide a hacker with full access to the system. If your firewall or your antivirus software have been inexplicably disabled, then it’s almost certain that the machine has a serious infection. If this occurs, and you are unable to turn the firewall back on again and keep it on, then your best course of action is to perform a complete system restore, since there’s no way of identifying the exact threat with complete certainty.
#6. The Mouse Moves by Itself
Sometimes, mouse pointers may move randomly about the screen due to a driver or hardware error. However, if the pointer is moving between programs and taking specific actions, then you can be certain that someone has remote access to your desktop. Of course, this is precisely how legitimate remote desktop software works, which many employers use in the workplace. Nonetheless, if this is not the case, then you’ll want to disconnect the computer from the network immediately.
Here at Spectrumwise, you might call us overprotective, but keeping our clients’ data secure is what we do, and we happen to be extremely good at it. Our seven-layer approach to cybersecurity will help make sure that none of the above will ever happen to your computers. Call us today to lock down your business from hackers.