If your device has a connection to the internet, you’re a target for cybercrooks. Cybersecurity firms nationwide have reported an increase in all types of malicious hackery, from cyberattacks to fraud attempts. Every 39 seconds, there’s a new attack somewhere on the web — so these days, it’s not a matter of whether you get hacked, but a matter of when. And when it comes to malware and viruses, being able to react in a timely manner is the key to damage control.
But getting hacked isn’t always easy to recognize. Without knowing how to identify the signs, cybercriminals may have enough time to steal personal information and passwords, use your computer for their malicious deeds, or hold sensitive data hostage.
The Warning Signs
Here are just a few red flags of a compromised device.
- Your Internet Searches Are Redirected
If your internet searches are redirecting you to somewhere that you don’t want to go, that’s a red flag that your computer may be compromised. Some cybercriminals make their living solely on getting your clicks to appear on someone else’s website. You can spot this type of malware by searching a general term (such as “dog” or “flower”) to see whether the same websites appear in the results.
- You Get Frequent, Random Pop-Ups
If a digital device has been experiencing more pop-up ads than usual for suspicious products or services that you’ve never heard of — this may be an indicator that it has picked up a virus. This abnormal system behavior is often used by cyber scammers to trick users into paying them for a fake service or downloading ransomware.
While these messages may seem authentic, their tell-tale sign is in their random content. If the device hasn’t been used to research the product or service the pop-up is offering, avoid clicking on it.
- Slowed Computer or Phone System Speeds
When a hacker hijacks your computer or phone for malicious purposes, it can eat up your device’s processing power and slow down its performance. So, if you notice that your streaming service is buffering more than usual or your download speeds are seriously slow, it might not just be your internet. Pay attention if there’s a sudden, significant, and long-term drop in performance – that’s a major red flag.
- Random Shutdowns and Restarts
If your computer is shutting down or restarting without your initiation, it could be a sign of an unhealthy battery, or you might have hackers on your hands. Having one or two random cases of a restart or shutdown isn’t a cause for alarm. But if it keeps happening regularly, a cybercrook may be involved. Your device may be shutting down or restarting because unauthorized apps are taking control of your device and destabilizing the system.
- Sent Messages You Didn’t Send
Once a hacker gains access to your accounts, some may try to gain even more victims by reaching out to your followers and friends. With the guise of pretending to be you, they’ll send them false information to try and lure them into a trap.
For this reason, it’s always a good idea to check all of your sent messages. And if you do notice messages that have been sent without your knowledge, contact the account platform reps and change your password – or if on a company system, immediately notify your IT department.
- You’re Shut Out of Your Accounts
Having trouble logging into an account with your username and password? Users may find themselves in that situation if they are the victim of a successful phishing scam where a hacker has successfully obtained and changed login credentials. Users who find themselves locked out of their accounts should immediately notify their IT department to minimize potential damages.
Be Cyberaware and Protect Your Assets
Digital users must stay hyper vigilant to thwart fraud attempts and cyberattacks. In addition to watching out for the red flags outlined above, if you are on a company network, adhere to your cybersecurity policy.
Having a strong cybersecurity plan in place is key but so is ensuring that assets are protected. That’s why Bluefin specializes in encryption and tokenization solutions to mask sensitive data, including payment information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Protected Health Information (PHI). Our solutions provide organizations in retail, healthcare, higher education, government, nonprofit and more with flexible options to devalue all data upon intake, transit in storage.