So you think you've been hacked. It can be little overwhelming thinking someone may have gained access to your computer without permission or authorization. But don't worry, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your information.
The first thing to do is check for signs of access. This includes checking for programs running that you don't recognize, or changes to your computer's settings - background images, font or color changes, icon placement. If you notice any of these signs, it's important to act quickly, but it could also be an operating system update. Don't fret.
As a first step, we recommend doing a full scan of your computer using a reliable anti-virus program. This will help identify any malware or other malicious software that may have been installed on your computer. You can find anti-virus programs by searching on the internet, and most are free to download, but make sure the software is up-to-date before you run the scan, as this will ensure that it is able to detect the most recent threats. Norton anti-virus or McAfee are popular and effective, but be careful when you search for them, some bad actors make their websites look like these services. Just give the URL an extra look and make sure there aren't any typos or uses of weird punctuation (i.e Norto.n, Nortonn, or McAffe).
Should you feel there are signs of access, disconnect your computer from the internet. This will prevent the bad-actor from continuing to access your computer and potentially grabbing sensitive information. It will also make it more difficult for them to upload malware or install other malicious software. Now, take a deep breath. Remember, there are tons of different security levels to the devices and services you use, just because a 'hacker' got through any one layer, doesn't mean he got through all.
By now, you will have done most of what is actually in your power. Unfortunately, some bad actors may be able to remain hidden even if you take the above actions. The reason for this is that the tools they use, like remote desktop applications such as TeamViewer are not considered malware and oftentimes opening email attachments or clicking on specific links, effectively grant the software permission to be on your computer, so they won't register as dangerous.
One other thing to note, and we're sorry to say it as it's particularly annoying, you should also change all of your passwords. This is especially important for any accounts that store sensitive information, such as online banking or email accounts. Make sure to use strong, unique passwords that are difficult to guess or crack. If you find it difficult to remember multiple passwords, consider using a password manager or a username manager like those found at GoGoQuincy.com.
Finally, it's also important to remember to keep your computer updated with the latest security patches and updates. You should have a tech concierge review your computer's security settings every once and a while. This will also ensure that your computer has the most recent protection against known security threats.