What To Do When Your Computer Is Hacked
You were looking for an old file, and phew! You found a program or application you never remembered installing. Then you remember you've closed some pop-up windows lately. Your computer is also unusually slow, and other strange things have been happening. You connect the dots and realize that you may have been hacked.
Hackers and scammers are finding new ways to steal financial information, personal files, trade secrets, and extort their victims. If you suspect that your computer has been compromised, it's crucial to take immediate action. Here's what to do.
1. Reset your passwords.
The first step to take is changing your PC's password. And this time, use something stronger. It's far easier to decode a 6-length password than a 12-character combination.
While it may seem like a lot of work, you also have to change the passwords to your social media accounts, emails, subscriptions, etc., from an unaffected device.
Ideally, passwords should be between 8 - 64 characters long and shouldn't be created using your name, date of birth, or other personal information.
2. Disconnect your PC and turn off the internet.
While your computer is connected, it can be used to steal data files and data from other connected devices.
So disconnect it from the network by pulling out the network cable to prevent the virus from spreading and communicating with other devices. Turn off all WiFi connections too, so there's no communication via the internet.
3. Shut down and remove hard drives.
Remove all your hard drives, both external and internal. Don't forget to eject external drives before removing them. Then shut down your computer to minimize damage.
Also, remove the internal hard drive by removing the computer's case. The owner's manual will contain details of how to do it. If you're finding it difficult, consult a professional.
4. Scan for infection and back up.
Connect your hard drive to another computer and use its security software to detect and remove viruses, spyware, and other threats. You also want to copy your photos, videos, documents, and other files to another device.
5. Wipe your hard drive.
After backing up, move your drive back to your PC and wipe your hard drive. While you may think the security software has removed the infection on the drive, you can't be sure that it's totally clean. So it's very important to wipe your hard drive completely.
6. Reinstall your OS.
Reinstall your computer OS from a trusted source. It's best to use the original OS that came with your computer. If you can't find that, buy a new one from the OS company. Downloading an OS from online sources can be risky as they might contain viruses that'll infect your computer.
After reloading the OS, install the latest security updates and patches. Also, install reputable, trusted security software to prevent future attacks before installing other applications.
7. Alert friends and family.
Hackers may have targeted those on your contact list by sending them messages using your social media and email accounts. Let them know such emails didn't originate from you. And if they've clicked any link, they should scan their computers for viruses and spyware.
Need a professional to have a look at your computer? LoriTech Computer Repair can remove and protect your computer from all threats. Contact us today!