We all know that malicious hackers are lurking everywhere on the web, and it’s easy for us to become the next preys if we don’t pay attention to internet security measures. But even the best procedures have their weaknesses; and if luck just doesn’t come our way, our computers could still be compromised even when we have taken precaution methods. So how could we know whether our machines are hacked? What kind of clues should we look for? Here are 7 most obvious signs that your computer have fallen into the hands of the nasties.
1. Password failures
This is one of the most common symptoms to appear on a hacked machine. If you are not sharing your computer with someone else, and you don’t remember any instances in which you have changed the passwords for programs and websites that you frequently use, it’s likely that the passcodes have already been cracked and modified by someone else.
2. Uninitiated program and file changes
The list of programs on your machine may be modified, with unknown softwares being installed against your will. On the other hand, your files may suddenly be removed from their original locations, moved to the recycle bin or even deleted.
3. Malfunctions and removals of anti-virus and internet security programs
If protective softwares are installed on your machine, of course the hackers would want to get rid of them. Either their normal operations would be disrupted, or they would be totally disabled or uninstalled.
4. Unusual printer behaviors
If your system is compromised, all the machines connected to it may work in peculiar ways. A clear piece of evidence would come from your printer, which may start to print millions of pages that you have never requested, and when you command it to stop or print something else, it never works.
5. Strange browser activities
Never-seen-before toolbars and plug-ins may be added, your home page and searches may be redirected to unwanted results, and random pop-ups may appear out of nowhere.
6. Spams sent from your online communication tools
If your friends start to complain about advertisements, spams or phishing emails they receive from you, be very cautious. Your email accounts and instant messaging programs may have already been hijacked, and the swindlers are using them to spread vicious stuff to your communication network.
7. Mysterious financial losses
If money has been taken away from your bank accounts through unauthorized online transactions, take actions immediately. Your system is extremely likely to be compromised, and has developed to one of the worst stages. Contact your bank to suspend all transactions temporarily, change all your passwords, and most importantly, ditch your current computer if possible to prevent future breaches and losses.