A hard truth to swallow... "I think my computer has been hacked!"
"What do I do now?"
Do not panic. Read solution suggestions below.
Note: This article is meant to help users who suspect their computer has been compromised. It does not address prevention or every hacking technique, but is intended to provide suggestions for data safety in the event of a possible intruder.
Reality check: Anti-virus software is not enough.
Most people who own a computer are aware of maintaining some sort of anti-virus software on their computer to keep them safe from hacking, or so they thought. Unfortunately, there are many new attacks that most anti-software programs do not catch. One of these new trends eluding anti-virus software is "keylogging".
What is keylogging?
Keylogging can be used for many purposes, most which are completely legit and safe. This is why it is hard for typical anti-virus software to track malicious keylogging. What inspired this article is the type of keylogging hackers execute as software which runs in the computer's background, completely unnoticed. After the keylogging software has been launched it then tracks every key stroke on your keyboard and keeps a log of every keystroke you make. Your computer runs as normal, and everything works as expected. Unfortunately, as you unknowingly move on with your computer work, the log records you - your passwords as you use them, or your credit card the next time you purchase something online. Yikes!
What to do to keep your information safe.
If you suspect an attack or intruder on your computer — generally after visiting a website or email that has been hacked and redirects you to another unwanted website, sometimes with an audio stating, "you've been hacked," or other suspicious behavior — most likely the first thing you will do is scan your computer, or run your anti-virus software, looking for a virus. Regardless of whether your anti-virus software states "no threats found", you should take the next step to protect your computer. If you do not already have an anti-spyware software that specifically searches for keyloggers, you should download one immediately. For Mac users, some options are MacScan or Intego. For Windows users, some options are SpyShelter or Webroot.
Don't have anti-spyware for keylogging yet?
If you are trying to download keylogging anti-spyware after you think you've been hacked, download and install a free trial version on the infected computer, but do not buy it on the infected computer. Do not enter your credit card information on that computer until after you've cleaned it up. Instead, use another device, such as a laptop, tablet, or phone, to purchase the software. After you receive the registration or activation number, submit the number on the infected computer, run the scan, and follow any clean-up recommendations.
Lastly, since you may have used your administrative password on that computer, change that administrative password after everything is cleaned up. And use a strong, hacker-deterrent, yet memorable password.
As always, to best avoid hack attacks, keep your website security updated and secured. Learn more about how to keep your website secured by setting up a meeting with Können Design.