Have I been hacked? 8 Tell-tale signs to know if you or your business have been hacked.

Have you or your business been hacked? It can be difficult to know for sure without a full security audit, but there are some tell-tale signs that could indicate that your network’s security has been breached.

In this post, we’ll outline eight signs that may indicate that you or your business have fallen victim to hacking. Being aware of these signs will enable you to take immediate steps towards protecting your network and IT systems, preventing, or mitigating potential data and financial losses.

So, what are the eight signs? Continue reading to find out.

Sign #1: Your contacts or customers suddenly start getting spam emails from your account

One of the most common signs that you’ve been hacked is an increased number of complaints from your contacts or customers about unusually high email traffic from your account. This usually happens because the hacker has accessed your email account and is sending out spam or phishing emails from it. This is a common tactic used by hackers as they know that users are less likely to report spam emails if they come from a trusted email address.

Next steps: If you notice that email messages that you didn’t send are in your sent folder or if your business has email tracking software and notice a spike, it’s time to act. You should change your email address passwords immediately and ensure that you set up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).

Sign #2: Your computer or network is running slower than usual

If your computer or network is running noticeably slower, it could be a sign that you’ve been hacked. This may be because the hacker is trying to use your system’s resources to carry out an attack undetected or to transfer large files over your network.

Next steps: Look at your network or task manager to see if you notice anything suspicious. Download or run your current security software to detect any malware or viruses on your computer.

Sign #3: Your internet connection seems unusually slow

Similarly, if you’re experiencing unusually slow internet speeds, it could be a sign that your network has been hacked. Hackers often use ‘stolen’ bandwidth to carry out their attacks and reduction in your connection speed could be a sign that you’re dealing with data breaches, external file transfers or malware.

Next steps: Investigate your network activity and task manager to see if anything suspicious can be spotted. Run an internet speed test to ascertain whether your slower connection is due to malicious hacker activity or other, benign reasons e.g., ISP throttling or band width congestion.

Sign #4: Your files have been mysteriously encrypted

If you notice that some of your files have suddenly been encrypted without your knowledge, it could be a sign that your computer has been hacked. If the hacker demands money from you in exchange for decrypting these files, then you have a classic ransomware attack on your hands.

One of the most dreadful examples of a similar attack was the ‘Wanna Cry’ ransomware attack in 2017. Over 200K computers across 150 countries were affected, with losses amounting to billions of dollars.

What to do: The best way to avoid this is to make sure that your backup/recovery processes are in place. Additionally, these processes should include testing data restoration protocols.

If you have received a Ransomware message don’t delay contacting us to speak to one of our Security experts to advise you. Click here to get in touch.

Sign #5: Your passwords have stopped working

If your passwords stop working, it may indicate that someone has hacked into your system and stolen your login credentials. This is a common tactic used by hackers, as it allows them to access your accounts unhindered and can be used to launch a ransomware attack.

Next steps: If possible, change your passwords immediately by creating a strong password/passphrase. Two-factor-authentication should be considered. Make use of password management tools to safely store and sync all your usernames and passwords across multiple devices. The software also warns you should any of your security information become compromised.

IT Glue, Dashlane and LastPass are some of the best password management tools we recommend. Contact us today to find out more about these solutions.

Sign #6: Programmes installed that you have not authorised

Sometimes it is difficult to spend time on ensuring that only legitimate tools and software are installed on your or your business’ computers. This is especially true in the life of entrepreneurs, start-ups or small to medium businesses where product or service development and sales are priority.

More than often, software installed unintentionally is benign and sometimes browser add-ons are accidentally installed. The reality is that not all software is wanted or purposefully installed on you or your business’ computers. There is a risk that, if you or someone in your business doesn’t remember installing something, it’s been loaded by a hacker.

Next steps: Regularly spend time going through your private or business computers’ installed software and toolbars. If you notice any software or applications that you don’t recognise, uninstall them.

Sign #7: Your website has excessive login attempts

A first sign that your website may be at risk of being hacked would be unusually excessive attempts to connect with your domain account where multiple password retries have been logged. Login attempts at odd times or from unknown locations are red flags that shouldn’t be ignored.

Next steps: Adding multi-factor-authentication can help mitigate any risk from these login attempts. Additionally, consider using external penetration testing and other security measures like App Scanner integration or command centre monitoring tools.

Sign #8: You hear about a breach of a service you use on the News

We hear the news of a hack of a service that you regularly use, albeit every couple of months. Information obtained by hackers is then sold on the Dark Web and used by other hackers to access or attempt to hack your personal or business computers or networks. Information may include email accounts or even passwords which can lead to other kinds of attacks, including spear-phishing, when they have already gained access to your business’ network.

Next steps:Have I been pwned?’ is one of the best tools for checking whether your email accounts or passwords that have been leaked. This website allows you to enter each of your email addresses to determine whether they have been compromised.

Protecting your company’s digital assets now is worth the effort and time spent to prevent long-term financial and reputational repercussions down the line.

If you’re unsure about any of the signs listed above or want to know more about other ways that hackers are able infiltrate your personal and business systems and networks as well as how to protect your business from being hacked, contact us or call us to speak to one of our experts.

With decades of global experience working for financial institutions, corporates, start-ups, and enterprises, our college of CTOs can provide a wide variety of highly valuable insights on security and strategy.


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Gareth Broekmann
Gareth Broekmann
Gareth Broekmann founded Charles Square (CSq) in 2014 with the goal of becoming a one-stop shop for technology solutions for companies in the finance sector and regulated businesses across the globe. With over 15 years of experience in Financial Services, as head of CSq Operations Gareth is dedicated to making sure clients get the most out of their IT investments so they can focus on what matters: their business. His commitment to sustainability has led him to spearhead initiatives related to climate positivity and ESG implementation. In addition, he is an avid golfer and supports 11 UK based charities, highlighting his passion for giving back to local communities. Through its innovative services and commitment to social responsibility, CSq offers an unmatched value proposition that promises to serve its customers efficiently while improving society at large.