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Signs your computer was hacked

Signs your computer was hacked
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Living in a digital world has its perks, but it also comes with some risks. One of those risks: hackers accessing your smartphone and computer. You may have heard about hackers installing spyware on computers, but what exactly is spyware? “Spyware is any piece of software that collects and transmits information without the user’s consent and with covert methods,” shares Steven Solomon, co-founder and former CTO of Arcutek. It is used to gather information on a target, usually passwords, credit card, and financial information, system files, and, in extreme cases, keylogging and screen capture, he says.

Since hackers can get this sensitive information, it’s important to stay alert about what’s happening on your computer – especially if something odd comes up. Here are some signs your computer was hacked, and what you can do about it.

Your computer starts running slower

Your computer starts running slower
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If your computer suddenly starts taking forever to turn on or open up applications, that could be a symptom of malware infection, especially a worm or a Trojan horse, warns Sophie Miles, CEO and co-founder of elMejorTrato.com. “This happens because malicious software consumes too many CPU resources, which overloads your computer and causes it to run much slower than normal,” she says. However, computers can be slow for a host of other reasons, including lack of maintenance, full hard disk, overheating of the processor, and more, so it’s not a definitive sign that it has a bug.

Don’t miss these password mistakes that hackers hope you’ll make.

Your fans go into hyperspeed

Your fans go into hyperspeed
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“One the simplest ways to tell if a machine or mobile device has spyware, crypto-mining malware, or other viruses that consume processing power is paying attention to the physical temperature and battery life of the machine,” says Bill Siegel, founder of Coveware. So if your phone suddenly needs to be charged three or four times a day, its fan is running more than half the time, and it is always hot in your pocket or handbag, this can be a sign that malware is running and burning a significantly higher amount of CPU power.

These are the alarming things a hacker can do when they have your email address.

Your webcam randomly starts recording

Your webcam randomly starts recording
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If your webcam or microphone turns on by itself that could be a sign of an infection, says David Geer from Geer Communications. And spies aren’t only trying to see you in an uncompromising position – hackers will try to catch your various passwords as you type them in.

Read on for the real likelihood you are being watched through your laptop camera.

You see unknown sending and receiving lights

You see unknown sending and receiving lights
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Another indicator that someone else is controlling your computer? “Blinking send and receive lights when your computer is idle is a warning sign,” says technology expert, Jack Vonder Heide.

Your apps act up

Your apps act up
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“A known approach to data collection is injecting attacker code to the target application,” says Lindsay Hull, senior strategist at Zer0 to 5ive. The result is an app may run slowly or crash frequently.

Find out which apps security experts would never have on their phone.

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You start seeing more pop-up ads

You start seeing more pop-up ads
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“If all of a sudden you have browser add-ins or plug-ins you don’t remember installing, your machine may be infected,” says Dr Richard Ford, chief scientist at Forcepoint. “Often, these add-ins help an attacker monetise their access to your machine. Similarly, if the web now seems full of pop-up advertisements, you may be infected.”

Your homepage changed

Your homepage changed
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“If you open your web browser and are taken to an unfamiliar page instead of your normal homepage, or if you type a search term into your browser, and another browser pops up with a list of websites for your search term, this could be a sign of spyware,” says Stacy M. Clements of Milepost 42. “This is especially true if you realise your browser settings have been modified and you are unable to change the settings.”

Mysterious tools start showing up

Mysterious tools start showing up
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“Other signs of potential spyware are files appearing on your computer, or toolbars and tray icons that you didn’t install suddenly showing up,” Clements says. You may also find that your antivirus software or some system tools on your computer are unresponsive or don’t work properly.

Don’t miss these tricks to make your computer run faster.

Websites suddenly stop responding

Websites suddenly stop responding
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“I’m not talking about one or two websites but multiple ones that aren’t related,” says Trave Harmon of Triton Computer Corporation. And if your co-workers or other people on your same network aren’t having any problems accessing these same sites, that’s an even bigger sign something is afoot.

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