How to Tell if You’re Being Hacked
June 2024
How to Tell if You’re Being Hacked

Have you ever asked yourself: “am I being hacked?” Perhaps not, because skilled hackers do their dirty work in a way that doesn’t tip off their victims. And that’s their point—the longer that a victim is unaware that they’ve been hacked, the more damage that hackers can do.

Which is why being aware of the most common signs that you’ve been hacked is so important.

But first, let’s answer the question: why do hackers attack?

Why do hackers attack you?

Hackers have many goals, from “hacktivism” to testing malware for future use, to accessing your personally identifiable information, and everything in between. But it’s safe to say that there are three main goals:

Access to personal information: Your personally identifiable information, such as your Social Security number, is a prime target for hackers. Because once they have it, they can turn around and sell it on the dark web to other criminals. This stolen info is also fuel for identity theft.

Access to other online accounts: A second main goal is gaining access to users’ various online accounts. Cyber thieves use hijacked login credentials to get into accounts and view payment details to take over the account—which also often leads to identity theft.

Financial information: When hackers gain access to your financial info, they can more easily use your credit or bank account data for fraudulent purchases. They can also apply for credit or other accounts in your name. In some cases, hackers even file a fraudulent tax return in your name.

11 signs you’ve been hacked

Now that you know about the hacking risks, let’s look at 11 common signs that you’ve been hacked so that you can be on the lookout.

  1. Suspicious logins: Sometimes, when hackers get into your device, they’ll login from a suspicious location, as in a place you’ve never been before. So, if you see that someone tried accessing your account while you were asleep, or from a device that’s not yours, you’ve likely been hacked.
  2. Fake antivirus software pop ups: Be on the lookout for suspicious, spammy antivirus pop ups because they’re a telltale sign of malware. If you see changes to your configuration that you didn’t actually make, it’s another sign that your smartphone, or device, has been targeted by hackers.
  3. Homepage redirection: A classic hacker tactic, redirecting people to certain sites leads to big money, because they’re paid to do it. If a user opens the site, it will often redirect them to another site, of course without their permission. It’s a classic sign that malware has been installed on your device or computer.
  4. Browser toolbar changes: If all of a sudden, your browser shows toolbars that seem strange, or that you didn’t install yourself, it’s a bad sign. Not only are they a clue that you’ve been hacked, but they can mess with your browser settings and lead you to spam sites, not to mention open you up to other dangerous files.
  5. Social media invites you didn’t send: Many people on social media have received unsolicited messages from someone on their contact list that includes an invitation to open a URL. This could mean that a hacker’s gained access to your account and is hitting up all of your contacts with a malicious link. It’s one of the most obvious signs that you’ve been hacked.
  6. Your mouse moves on its own: If your mouse starts moving without you doing it, sound the alarm (though there’s a small chance it could be just a technical issue). If it’s making clear movements and opening up files or programs, it’s significantly more likely that there’s a hacker behind it.
  7.  Mass emails being sent: If you wake up to several messages from people in your contacts list that you sent them a weird e-mail, it’s likely that you were hacked. The good news about this particular sign is that it’s an easy one to recognize as most people remember their recently sent emails.
  8. High temperature and battery use: If your phone or laptop feels weirdly hot, it might not be from overuse, it may be because you’ve been hacked. Because malware and other malicious apps use extra power from your device which can have the effect of overheating it, not to mention slowing it down.
  9. Passwords stop working: Let’s say that you try to log in to an account or a site that you habitually use and you find that you’ve been shut out—it’s an obvious sign that you’ve been hacked. Yes, it could simply be that the site itself is having tech issues, but the likelihood is that someone stole your details and changed your password. This can be the direct result of phishing emails.
  10. Webcam randomly turns on: Another surefire sign that you’ve been hacked is that your webcam turns on without your prompting. This happens when hackers have remote access to your device or laptop. Like mass emails, this is an easy hacking sign to recognize.
  11.  Unknown programs launch: If programs that you haven’t prompted start to suspiciously launch, or you discover apps that you haven’t downloaded, that’s also a telltale sign of hacking.

Protect yourself with IDShield

If you really want to learn how to avoid getting hacked, get best-in-class hacking protection, and be aware of internet scammer tactics, the last (but definitely not least) thing you should do is to become a member of IDShield. It’s an excellent way to protect your Personally Identifiable Information. Getting identity theft protection from IDShield is one of the most effective ways to battle online thieves. As an IDShield member, you’ll be better equipped to answer the question: “how do you know if you’ve been hacked?”

IDShield offers first-class personal data monitoring, Social Security number monitoring, credit monitoring and privacy and reputation management and takes pride in its highly qualified team of professionals, including Licensed Private Investigators, who can help you should an identity theft event occur.

Sign up for either 1 or 3 credit bureau monitoring.