You might get hacked at any moment without even realizing it right away. It can happen because you’ve downloaded something or clicked a weird link. Often, the activity of hackers is subtle enough to remain unnoticed. So it’s useful to know all the signs that would indicate you’ve got hacked in some way.

How do malefactors hack users?

First of all, let’s see what hacking is. While many people assume that the primary purpose of this malicious act is to infect a victim’s device with malware, it’s just the way to get to a real goal. Hackers aim at stealing valuable data like bank card details or passwords, and other personal information that could let them make some profit. Therefore, hacking is an act of stealing sensitive data from a victim’s device.

There are different approaches to hacking, but they can be roughly divided into two categories:

  • Indirect — it’s when a malefactor hacks some website that has lots of registered users and steals their logins and passwords. This approach is especially threatening for people who tend to use the same or similar combinations for passwords on different websites.
  • Direct — it’s when a malefactors targets you specifically by phishing, malware, or some other tools.

Sometimes, you’ll realize right away that you became a victim. But often, people remain unaware of being hacked.

So, how to understand that you’ve become a victim?

Cybersecurity specialists do their best to protect users from malefactors. But this battle is by default initially won by hackers because they’re the ones who come up with new threats. All security professionals can do is to detect new kinds of attacks as fast as possible and give their quickest response to them. They can do only so much because it’s very hard to predict the new threats malefactors could come up with.

That’s why it’s quite useless to talk about different kinds of approaches. It will be much more effective to take a look at signs that could indicate that you’ve got hacked, and figure out what to do in these situations.

Sign #1 — a website you’re registered on was hacked

Obviously, you became a victim if you saw the news about the website you have an account on being hacked. You can also use services like Surfshark Alert that monitor the websites on the internet. Such a tool will tell you if your email was found on any site that was compromised. It’s a very useful habit, actually — to check your email for breaches from time to time.

Sign #2 — you began getting notified about unknown login attempts

Steam users must know this situation very well because malefactors try to hack Steam accounts all the time. Players are nevertheless protected by the two-factor authentication that won’t let you into the account unless you enter a code sent to you via email. But still, you can see every attempt of accessing your account.

Yet, not every website or service offers multi-factor authentication. Many will just send you a notice that there was a login from a different device. Netflix does this, for example — every new login is followed by an email where you can see the details of a device through which someone logged into your account. At this point, if it wasn’t your activity, all you can do is to change your password because such an email would mean you’ve been hacked. If you’re using the same combinations for other services, it’s better to change those passwords as well, preferably to different combinations.

Sign #3 — your friends complain about getting weird messages from you

This was very widely spread several years ago. Malefactors would hack Facebook and Skype accounts and sent all the contacts messages with infected links. While this approach is not as popular anymore, it still exists, and it’s something to remember about.

Sign #4 — some weird ads and processes appear on your device

If you started seeing some strange ads in places where they wouldn’t usually appear, it’s a sign you’ve picked up malware. Also, your device might start working slower, or you can hear how the cooler works more intensely trying to cool off the system — these are also signs that some unusual processes are running. Check the Task Manager to see if there are any weird lines in the Processes tab. If you can see something you don’t recognize, you definitely are hacked.

Sign #5 — you are getting redirected

Are you clicking one link but landing on a different page? That might be malware redirecting you to malicious sites.

Sign #6 — there are apps you didn’t install

If you see apps that are already installed or just being loaded to your device, that’s a clear indication that you’ve become a victim of a cyber attack.

What to do if you’ve been hacked?

There are several things you can do:

  • Change the password. And if you’re using this combination for other accounts — change those passwords, too. Each should be unique and complicated. Use a password manager to keep all combinations diverse, remembered, and protected.
  • Contact the company. If one of your accounts got compromised, you should contact the website or service and tell them about it. There are two reasons why you should do it. First of all, they might help you. And also, by doing so you might protect other users.
  • Run an antivirus. It should be powerful and trusted. Avoid using some unknown brands — stick to those with a decent reputation.
  • Block your bank cards. If you worry that your banking account was hacked or your bank card details were stolen, block all the cards and contact your bank. Managers will help you to take back control.

How to stay safe?

It’s better to prevent a threat from happening rather than dealing with it. And you can protect yourself without any professional help, really. Here is what you can do:

  • Use a VPN app. You can use iNinja for any gadget — it will provide you with the best free VPN for Android, iOS, and desktop devices. It will keep your connections encrypted thus preventing hackers from tracking you down. You should always use a VPN when you’re connected to public WiFi. And you can use it at home for extra security.
  • Use an antivirus. Despite that there are many cheap or even free antiviruses that won’t overload the system, many users ignore the importance of this tool. That’s why they get infected. Just install an antivirus and let it run in the background.
  • Update the software. Outdated apps become entrance gates for hackers. Each update fixes vulnerabilities thus protecting you from attacks.
  • Use multi-factor authentication. It will add a reliable layer of protection to your accounts.