What's Happening? 7 Signs Someone Hacked Your Computer

One of the easiest ways for someone to hack your computer is by setting up a fake wireless access point in a public spot. You then connect to this network which gives hackers access to your device. Simple… and scary.

But how do you know if your computer has been hacked? Sometimes the signs are very obvious, and other times it’s a bit more subtle.

Check out these 7 symptoms of a hacked computer so that you can take action as soon as possible.

  1. Your Computer Is Suddenly Very Slow

One of the most common signs of a virus is a gadget that slows down significantly. You may find that your computer is freezing, crashing, or just being extremely sluggish.

The reason that this happens is that malicious software is running in the background, using your computer’s resources and causing it to slow down.

You can use the Task Manager on PC or the Activity Monitor on Mac to check what processes your computer is running — you may notice a program using all of your CPU.

Of course, your computer may just be old or struggling with RAM space. But if you know this is not the case then you likely have a hacked computer.

  1. Programs and Apps Are Crashing

Uh-oh, this is another clear sign that a hacker has wheedled their way into your computer and infected it. This is an especially obvious indication when your antivirus or task manager is crashing or disabled.

Perhaps you’re clicking on apps and they’re not opening. Or apps that once were very reliable are suddenly crashing. In the worst-case scenario, you may not be able to even open some programs and files.

If this happens, try booting your computer in Safe Mode, while it’s running with the bare essentials. And check out this guide on what to do when you’ve been hacked.

  1. You’re Bombarded With Pop-Up Ads

This is one of the most frustrating symptoms of a hacked computer and an obvious sign that you simply cannot miss. There are some websites that are full of ads, but if you notice way more pop-ups than usual or pop-up ads on sites that usually don’t have any, then this is a worrying sign.

What’s more, if you get pop-up ads when you’re not even browsing the internet, this is a huge red flag. Usually, these pop-ups will be asking you to visit questionable websites, such as porn sites.

The most important thing is to never click on the ad as this can just make the whole situation worse.

  1. Unexplained Online Activity

One of the main aims of a computer hacker is to get ahold of your usernames and passwords. This way they can access your bank accounts, social media accounts, online services, and more. Once you start to think about how much of your information is online, it’s pretty scary.

Keep an eye on your email ‘sent’ folder and social network activity. You may notice that there are spam emails sent from your account that you didn’t actually send. Or perhaps friends and followers have been receiving spam messages from you on your social accounts.

Always be aware of unauthorized activity on your accounts, including Netflix, Spotify, Strava, and other common apps.

  1. There Are Unknown Programs on Your Computer

It’s unlikely that you know every single program on your computer. Some are technical software programs that are required for the computer to run but that the average user isn’t really aware of.

However, if you notice some obviously weird and stage programs or software on your computer, then you should be suspicious.

On PC, you can check out each program on Microsoft Process Explorer. It tells you what the function of each program is so you can notice if anything unusual stands out.

You may also notice unwanted browser toolbars which is another indication that your computer has been hacked. The names of these new toolbars may seem helpful, but unless it’s from a well-known vendor, you should get rid of them.

  1. Your Cursor Is Doing Its Own Thing

Are you just about ready to throw your computer against the wall because your cursor has taken a mind of its own?

When your cursor is acting by itself, it isn’t an indication that your computer has suddenly turned on you, iRobot style. Rather, it’s a sign that your computer has been hacked and is being controlled remotely. This is a really bad sign.

Aside from your cursor doing its own thing, words may be typed on the screen without you touching the keyboard. This is another indication. It means the hacker has complete control over your computer and you need to act immediately.

  1. You Receive Fake Antivirus Messages

While this is becoming less prevalent nowadays, it’s still one of the clearest signs that your computer has been hacked. Unfortunately, by the time you see this message, your computer has already been hacked and the damage done.

This hack works easily. Essentially you get sent to a fake website and you’re prompted to buy antivirus software to resolve all of the supposed viruses on your computer.

Many people fall for this, but if you see a message like this, don’t click anything. Turn your computer off and reboot it in safe mode.

Spot the Signs of a Hacked Computer to Take Action

You can’t do anything about a hacked computer unless you know you’ve actually been hacked. If there’s suspicious activity or strange happenings on your computer, don’t ignore it. Do some further investigating so you can know whether you’ve been hacked and take appropriate action.

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