How to Know and What to Do When You’ve Been Hacked

Hacking has taken exponential proportions, as you can see for the statistics that are brought to light from time to time. There are about 30,000 websites hacked per day, according to Sophos Labs, with no prediction of such stats becoming more optimistic in the near future. Along with that, people have been suffering from identity theft occurrences and privacy has been lost for good.

With the term of hacking, we enclose all the actions related to intercepting sensitive data by penetrating into a system that is not yours. Most often hackers gain access of other people’s computers not only for stealing personal information, but also for triggering illegal actions and generally harming these people’s personalities.

This is definitely a hostile environment and the answer does not lie beneath the decision to abstain from the web. This is not a solution to hacking attempts, without a doubt. Nevertheless, every single person needs to be kept up to date as to what needs to be done in the case of a hacked computer.

So, this is what we are going to try and do here for all our readers; we are going to highlight some details about hackers and hacking procedures, as well as alert Internet users on what to do in hacking. Read along and find out how to be kept safe and sound, even when disaster strikes!

Types of hacking

There are several types of hacking that you need to become well aware of, in avoidance of any troubles linked to the web. Below, we are going to display the most commonly used hacking types for raising awareness and learning what they are all about. Let’s hit it, then!

  • Trojan Horse: This is malware that aims to penetrate your system and harm it from the inside. In general, it does not replicate; what it does is to deprive you of your privacy and steal valuable pieces of information from your computer. If you recall the ancient story of a wooden horse that had been built by the Greeks to enter Troy, after having besieged it for too long without any positive feedback, you will understand how canny Trojan Horse malware can be.
  • DoS: Denial of Service is an attack used by hackers, in order to obstruct Internet users from visiting a specific website. It is pretty common to target websites of critical importance or highly esteemed businesses, so as to hack their system and prevent people from reaching out to the specific websites. The host cannot offer its services temporarily to the site, due to the actions of hackers.
  • IP Spoofing: This is another method that is widely used by hackers worldwide in order to gain access to a computer (unauthorized access, of course). Although there can be protection against the phenomenon of IP spoofing, it can trigger severe consequences as it appears that the hacker sends data from a trustworthy source and then the IP of the target is reached.
  • Fake Wireless Access Points: As its name suggests, this is a threat that can harm people who try to take advantage of a Wi-Fi hotspot somewhere. By creating fake wireless access points, the hackers can enter your computer as soon as you try to connect. From then on, it is easy for them to reach out to your sensitive pieces of information – and most importantly, without you ever knowing about it.
  • File Name Tricks: By naming some files with malware, hackers attempt to trick you and mislead you into clicking on a specific file. Once this is done, the malware will be installed into your computer and the hacking experts will gain the opportunity to explore your system in depth. So, it is imperative that you do not give them such a chance easily.
  • Hosts File Redirect: Hackers have learned and mastered the art of redirecting the traffic of a website to another website promptly and efficiently. By using this tool, they can do it without any delay and you might not even have the slightest idea that this is happening.
  • Smurf: Smurf is made to combine IP spoofing and with this pretty plain attack the hackers can gain access to your computer’s details in no time. The attack is initiated and the traffic is sent to the desired IP address that has been spoofed. This can lead to the flooding of a specific computer. Such attacks are similar to Denial of Service (DOS), ultimately though.
  • Server Spoofing: In this case, data is sent to a server cache and the traffic gets redirected to a computer that the hacker has chosen. This is yet another hacking option that has been increasing rapidly in popularity.

Now that we have outlined the major types of hacking in use nowadays, it is time for us to continue on our article as to how you can identify that you have been hacked.

How will you know that you are hacked?

Many people get hacked and do not even have a clue about it, till it is too late. This is why it is crucial that you know exactly what you are dealing with beforehand. These are the signs that will offer you the certainty that something is wrong and you ought to take some action about it:

  • Your credit cards have been compromised: This is of course a serious outcome that can be related to hacking, especially if you engage in financial transactions online.
  • Your email account has been compromised: If you receive emails from friends worrying that what they got from you is not genuine or when you notice a lot of strange emails sent by your account, you should look no further. The chances are you’ve been hacked!
  • New programs are installed: You may notice that there are new programs in use on your computer, even though you have not authorized their installation and activation.
  • Computer passwords change: It is common for hackers to change the passwords that you use. This is definite proof that somebody else has got access to your computer.
  • Fake antivirus notifications: In case you have been hacked, perhaps there are fake antivirus notifications either informing you that everything is OK or alarming you and luring you to take action.
  • Unwanted browser searches: There are some solid steps one can take to strengthen the security of browser, but when you’ve been hacked – taking such cautions into consideration won’t do much (you need to nip the evil in the bud, righ?). You might check your browser searches and find that there are multiple searches that you have not completed yourself. This is another detail that should alert you that there is something going on with your computer.
  • Redirected Internet searches: Similarly to the previous sign, a hacked computer will most likely engage in redirected Internet searches; so, this is another thing that should alarm you.
  • Random pop-ups: It is certainly not cool for you to experience sudden pop-up windows getting on your screen. Although there is a chance that these pop-ups have to do with some sort of adware, they can also be proof of hacking.

I am hacked, then now what? How should I respond?

If you believe you have been hacked, SG (Security Gladiators) recommends you to make a move immediately. You should not shut your computer down, or even try to fix it by yourself as it could do more harm than good. Another reason you shouldn’t play with it by yourself is, you might destroy the evidence that might prove valuable for the investigation. If the hacked machine has been given by your employer to you, report the attack to your company instantly (either via supervisor, security team or help desk).

In case you can’t get in touch with your company, or are concerned your contact to them won’t be a success sooner – disconnect your device from the Internet, put it on suspension, hibernation or sleep mode. The reason why we recommend reporting to your organization is, they more likely would have dedicated team members to handle such situations or some effective procedures to follow – so, it’s better to let them handle it for you. Still, if you want to do it by yourself or simply have a personal computer hacked, below are the essential steps you need to take.

  • Backups: Preparing the backups ahead of time definitely is the most valuable step anyone can take. As if you want to be in a good position always for restoring your files, backing you data up on a regular bases is essential. Once you’ve been hacked the available options for you include wiping your hard drive and reinstalling your OS (operating system), or simply purchasing a new computer for you. Either way you need your backups to recover your personal data. So, either way you’d look for your backups if you want to recover your personal data – and of course, always keep backups!
  • Change password: It’s simply the common sense that you should immediately change your password, as soon as you get to know you’ve been hacked. Please make sure you change all of your online passwords as well, and not just the password of your computer or mobile devices. And of course, you need to change your accounts’ passwords from another computer or mobile that you’re confident is safe and secure.
  • Antivirus: If you’re among the lucky ones, your Antivirus is going to alert you about the infection somehow. In case an infected file has been reported to you by Antivirus, continue with the suggested actions there. The steps you need to take in such cases include quarantining the suspected file, cleaning or deleting the file completely. Most of the anti-virus programs will have links that you can visit to discover about the infection further. Make it your rule to quarantine any suspected file, if that’s not possible for you – delete it!
  • OS re-installation: If you are not been able to restore your computer by getting help from your Antivirus, the safest alternate option would be rebuilding your PC from scratch. Before moving forward, you need to disconnect the machine from Internet completely – yes completely, make sure that even the LAN cable is disconnected from PC (in case you’re connected with Internet via Ethernet).The first priority to install a new window would be to go with built-in re-installation partition provided by your system’s manufacturer – and of course, you should carefully follow the instructions provided by them. If you find your recovery partition infected, corrupted or missing, request your system manufacturer to send in a new recovery  DVD on your way. If manufacturer’s recovery partition isn’t the option for you, you can go with installing operating system by purchasing the windows from market. Genuine copy of the Windows software is what you should always look for, never fall in pray of a pirated software.
  • Seek help from a professional: Lastly, if you feel like you don’t have the necessary skills set or knowledge, better take your PC to a certified computer expert. As proper cyber security training is very crucial to deal with such a messy stuff, the chances are if you try to transfer your personal data from infected machine to the new one, you might end up transferring the malware alongside it. So, it’s far safer to seek help from an expert technician rather than spreading the bad all over.

How to prevent yourself from hacking?

Finally, it is high time we take a look at what we need to do for avoiding being hacked in the first place. Below, we have gathered some really simple and at the same time useful pieces of information that can act as guidelines to you. So, off we go!

  • Beware of phishing scams: Hackers have become a lot more sophisticated than they used to be some years ago. This means that phishing scams have become much harder to track now, as well. So, you need to keep your eyes open and make sure that you only visit legitimate sites and click on trustworthy links.
  • Enable two-factor authentication: With this tool, you will get the opportunity to enhance the overall security layering of your computer. You will have set an additional padlock to the front door of your private property. At least, double the time will be required prior to the hackers penetrating the system of yours.
  • Use strong passwords: It goes without even questioning that strong and solid passwords can keep all hackers at bay. It is certain that you have to ensure that your passwords are next to impossible to crack. So, the hackers will need to spend a lot of valuable time trying to figure out what you have selected as your password credentials.
  • Change your behavior: Above anything else, it is vital that you change your behavior as to how to deal with the security of your computer. A hacked computer can cause a lot of trouble and therefore it is crucial that you pay the attention needed, in avoidance of disastrous consequences.
  • Backup your files: In case you do not prevent a hacking attempt and further damage becomes reality, you ought to have a backup of all your files. So, you will be protected and you will not need to waste valuable time (and effort and precious files).
  • Install antivirus: If you are serious about hacking and preventive measures, you need to have the latest antivirus software installed and activated. In this way, your computer will be up to the challenge of identifying any threats promptly and effectively.
  • Update all software: This is similar to the previous measure, which stresses out the importance of updating all the programs and the software that you use on your computer.
  • Install only trustworthy software: Besides updated, the software that you make use of needs to come from a trusted source. This is the only way of being sure that you are not downloading a virus that can lead to hacking effects.
  • Delete unknown emails: Should an email come from somebody that you do not know and you have never heard of, you had better delete it and move on. It is not worth taking the risk of compromising the security of your computer.
  • P2P should be avoided: It is no secret that P2P downloading can be dangerous. This is one of the reasons why you should not engage in file sharing out in the open, while you are better off getting content from copyrighted places. In case, you must need to take advantage of Torrents – aim at making your torrents secure and private with the use of VPN and other security tools.
  • Avoid suspicious websites: Some websites can be filled with spyware and other viruses that seek to take advantage of your lack of guard. You should make sure that you only visit trusted websites that do not threaten your privacy and anonymity online.
  • Regular scans for viruses: Besides having installed antivirus software on your computer, you need to run regular scans as well. This is how you will determine the threats that emerge on the spot and avoid them once and for all.
  • Install a firewall: Last but not least, you should not underestimate the power of a firewall. As far as security from hacking is concerned, a firewall can be a strong tool. Added to the other guidelines displayed above, you can rest assured that the firewall is going to keep hackers off.


If you do not want to have your computer hacked and not even understand what has happened, you ought to be on alert and always remain vigilant as to the threats that are lurking in the dark.

We hope that we have provided substantial food for thought, in order to evaluate the security layering of your own computer. It is in your hands to keep hackers at bay and we are certain that this is what you are going to do!

Pierluigi Paganini Cyber Security Analyst; Member, European Union Agency for Network and Information Security Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group; Founder, Security Affairs Blog. Co-author of The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World.

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