What Steps Should I Take If I Suspect My Computer Has Been Compromised?

December 18, 2023 | Blog

According to statistics, it’s believed that about 17 million new malware attacks happen every month, even when there is active antivirus protection. In addition, major companies that monitor global cyber security problems estimate 10 billion attacks yearly. 

Whether you are a company or individual, your private or public computers are at risk of becoming compromised. After all, online safety isn’t guaranteed, especially considering sources like Google have determined that 50 websites are infected with at least one form of ransomware, virus, or malware every week. 

So, if you’re on the internet perusing various websites, there’s a chance that you could encounter compromised security on your computer. Since this situation can be concerning, it’s natural to panic and wonder how to rectify it. 

Luckily, you don’t have to go at this alone, as the team at My Computer Works has detailed the steps you should take if you suspect your computer has been compromised. 

What Are The Signs Your Computer Has Been Compromised? 

If you want to learn the steps you must take if you suspect your computer has been compromised, you first need to know the signs that indicate it has been. 

After all, you don’t want to panic and believe your computer security has been compromised if it hasn’t been. 

Below, we’ve listed a few of the common signs besides an increase in pop-up extensions:

  • Individuals in your contact lists have received unexpected emails from you. 
  • Your social media accounts are posting unfamiliar messages or content on your behalf. 
  • Your computer is lagging more than it normally does. 
  • You’re receiving emails or text messages from unfamiliar businesses or people. 
  • You’ve noticed unexpected credit card charges or accounts on your credit report that you’re unfamiliar with. 
  • Certain accounts have blocked you from logging in.
  • You’re receiving data breach notifications. 
  • Unexpected software has been installed on your computer. 

These are only a few of the signs your computer has been compromised. To learn more and determine if hacking or viruses are indeed causing havoc, consider speaking with an IT professional. 

Suspicious About A Compromised Computer? These Are The Immediate Steps You Should Take 

To minimize potential damage and protect your sensitive information, you must take a few steps if you believe your computer has been compromised. These steps have been detailed below and shouldn’t be too difficult to follow: 

Quarantine Your Computer

Much like if you suspect you’ve been infected with a real-life virus, you will want to quarantine your computer. Yet, this doesn’t mean you’ll put it in a room away from other devices. 

To properly quarantine your computer, you must isolate it as quickly as possible by disconnecting it from the internet. If your computer is connected to your home or work internet, a hacker or virus can access your device.

To disconnect your computer, simply unplug it from the network or disconnect it from your WiFi and router. You want to avoid any wireless or physical connections to prevent a virus from spreading. If you’re using a laptop, you might be able to switch off your connection to the internet in your settings. 

Use Your Antivirus Or Built-In Virus Protection To Run A Scan

Once your computer has been quarantined, you must use your built-in antivirus protection or other antivirus protection to run a scan. For example, you must use Windows Defender or similar built-in software or paid software like Avast, Norton, or McAfee. Should you not have antivirus protection, you need to get it.

To do this, you must go into your antivirus to run a system scan. When it scans your computer, it will identify any cyber threats like malware attacks, ransomware, and Trojan horse viruses. If it identifies any viruses that are compromising your computer’s safety it will quarantine them where you can then destroy them. 

If, after you’ve run a scan, you still believe you’ve been hacked, and your computer and personal information are at risk, it might be time to contact a professional. IT professionals like the ones at My Computer Works have the knowledge and skills needed to address cyber-attacks and data breaches and give recommendations for the steps forward. 

Reset All Your Passwords And Log Out Of Accounts

It might seem overly cautious or tiring, but you need to reset all your passwords and log out of all accounts if you suspect your computer has been compromised. 

This means you need to reset every password for all social networks, including Meta, X, and Instagram, as well as platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed. You should also reset all your online shopping account passwords to be safe, especially if your card information is linked to them. 

After resetting all your passwords, you must log out of all your accounts as an additional precaution to keep your personal information and computer safe. 

How Do You Monitor Your Computer After It’s Been Compromised? 

If you never want to have your computer compromised again, there are a few things you need to do to monitor it. 

First and foremost, you need to have premium quality antivirus software that gives you real-time monitoring, and that has routine scan capabilities. Secondly, you need to activate your firewall and avoid websites that are known to be malicious. 

Thirdly, you must monitor your computer to identify abnormal system slowness or unexplained site activity. Lastly, you need to ensure your computer is performing automatic system updates to patch any vulnerabilities, and you should back up your data in case it gets infected. 

Are There Any Sites And Scams You Should Avoid? 

To avoid viruses and hacking attempts, you must avoid a few sites and scams. 

Some of the most hazardous sites, according to Norton, that should be avoided at all costs include the following: 

  • sapo .pt
  • aladel. net
  • bpwhamburgorchardpark. Org
  • Ucoz. com
  • 17ebook. Co
  • fantasticfilms. ru
  • Blogspot .de
  • mactep. org
  • magic4you. Nu
  • fc2 .com
  • tathli. com
  • teamclouds. com
  • texaswhitetailfever. com

In addition to avoiding the above sites (which is only a small sampling), you must avoid internet scams that often catch people unaware. 

According to the FBI, internet crimes in 2022 resulted in over $10.2 billion in losses, many of which were because of scams. 

If you know the scams to avoid, you can prevent your computer from becoming compromised. Some of the more popular scams include the following: 

  • Phishing scams: These scams involve deceptive emails or messages masquerading as trustworthy entities to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information like passwords or financial details. For example, you might get a seemingly real email from your bank or university that tries to get information from you. 
  • Disaster relief scams: These scams exploit your goodwill by posing as fake charities or aid organizations, wanting donations for supposed relief efforts. For example, a fake organization could ask for money to send to earthquake victims of a recent earthquake. Unwittingly, you would enter your credit card information or e-payment information.
  • Tech support scams: These scams involve deceptive calls or pop-ups claiming your computer has issues. It is made to sound like your computer is compromised and that paying for unnecessary services or granting remote access will help resolve your PC issues. Unfortunately, granting access or installing corrupt software enables scammers to compromise personal information or devices.

Wrap Up On The Steps To Take After Your Computer Is Compromised

Following the steps we discussed in this blog, you will be able to handle your compromised computer situation effectively and safely. These simple tips will help mitigate damage and protect sensitive information, but only if you know what you’re doing. 

If you have any doubt surrounding your antivirus capabilities, you should consider consulting an IT professional at My Computer Works. We’ve handled countless cases involving compromised computers and know how to help you with your computer security. Simply contact us here and ask us how we can help. 

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