Has your computer been hacked?
Internet users with lackluster security arent the only ones racing to Google in a panic to search how to tell if my computer has been hacked. No matter how careful you are online, youre a potential target for hackers. (Yup, even if you use good passwords and practice smart online security.) Giant data breaches at megacorporations may get the most media attention, but cybercriminals dont discriminate; theyre as likely to target an individual as a global company.
The unfortunate truth about cybersecurity is that many people dont think about it until its too late, says Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO of consumer cybersecurity company Aura. In 2021, the FBI received over 550,000 complaints of these crimes from Americans, with reported losses exceeding $6.9 billion.
The fact is, hackers will prey on anyone with vulnerabilities, whether those are easy-to-guess passwords or public information that makes doxxing easier. The scary thing is that you may not know your computer has been compromised. Spyware, for instance, lurks on your computer like a sneaky data thief. And phishing scams can seem legit. If fear has you searching how to tell if my computer has been hacked, youre in luck. Weve rounded up the top 15 signs, according to cybersecurity experts.
How do hackers get access to your computer?
Hackers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to stealing your information. Viruses and malware, including spyware and ransomware, make the most of security gaps, sneaking onto your system and stealing your data. But theres another type of hacking thats even easier: social engineering. As Ravichandran points out, Hackers and scammers know theres one vulnerability they can always exploit: you.
Social engineering attacks use the human loophole to get around cybersecurity roadblocks. Instead of hacking your accounts to steal your identity, they hack you by using phishing attacks, imposter frauds, and other scams, he says. Its whats known as human hacking.
Hackers use deceptive psychological manipulation to instill fear, excitement, or urgency, Ravichandran says. Once youre in a heightened emotional state, theyll use that against you to cloud your better judgment. And then theyll try to steal your data so they can access everything from your personal information to your banking details in an attempt to commit fraud.
If you suspect that may have happened to you, look for the subtle (and not-so-subtle) clues that your computer has been hacked. Keep reading to find out what they are and what actions to take.