It can be difficult to detect a hacker on a computer because the hacker will hide or disguise their actions. Below are the most common things that you may notice after a computer is hacked.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine who hacked a computer or detect who is actively hacking a computer.
Most computer problems are not caused by computer hackers. It is more common for a computer to be hijacked by a virus then to be hacked.
New programs installed
In some situations, you may see new programs or files on the computer. If you are the only user on the computer and new programs are installed, this could be an indication that it was hacked. However, there are also several legitimate reasons why a new program may appear on the computer, as listed below.
- Operating system or other program received updates that included new programs or files.
- When you installed a new program, other programs may have been installed with it. For example, it is common for plugins and other free programs to have a check box asking if it is ok to install a new Internet browser toolbar or antivirus program on your computer. If you don't uncheck these boxes, the additional new programs are installed.
- If you suspect someone may have used your machine, ask if they installed a new program.
Below is a listing of programs that may indicate a hacker was on the computer.
- Backdoors and trojans are by far the most common programs installed on a computer after it is hacked. These programs can allow the hacker to gain access to a large amount of information stored on your computer.
- IRC clients are another common way for a hacker to get into a computer or remotely control thousands of computers. If you have ever participated in an IRC chat, your computer could have been hacked.
- Spyware, rogue antivirus programs, and malware might be an indication of a hacker. More commonly, however, they are a sign that your computer was infected via download or visiting a hijacked page while on the Internet.
Computer passwords have changed
Sometimes, after an online account is hacked, the hacker changes the password to one or more accounts. Try using the forgot password feature to reset the password. If your e-mail address has changed or this feature does not work, contact the company who is providing the service. They are the only ones who can reset your account and give control back to you.
Local computer password
If your password to log into your computer has changed, it may have been hacked. There is no reason why a password would change on its own.
- Lost or forgotten Windows password.
E-mail spam being sent
When an e-mail account is taken over, the attacker almost always uses that account to spread spam and viruses. If your friends, family, or coworkers are receiving advertising e-mail from you, your e-mail may be compromised. Log into your e-mail account and change your account password.
TipE-mail addresses can also be spoofed without hacking the account. After changing the e-mail password, if your friends continue to get e-mails you have not sent, it is likely someone is spoofing your e-mail address.
Unknown program requesting access
Computer security programs and firewalls help restrict access for security purposes. If the computer prompts for access to programs you do not know, rogue programs may be installed or it may have been hacked. If you do not know why a program needs access to the Internet, we recommend blocking access to that program. If you later discover these blocks cause problems, they can be removed.
TipA firewall prompting you for access may also be someone trying to probe your network, looking for open or available ports.
Security program uninstalled
If the computer's antivirus program, anti-malware program, or firewall was uninstalled or disabled, it can also be an indication of a hacked computer. A hacker may disable these programs to help hide any warnings that would appear while they are on your machine.
NoteIt is also possible for a virus to disable the antivirus program or malware to interfere with the anti-malware program.
Computer is doing things by itself
If your computer is performing strange unknown tasks by itself, then know you are probably most likely hacked, uninstall that program immediately
Internet browser homepage changed or new toolbar
If you notice that your web browser configuration has suddenly changed, this may be a symptom of virus or malware infection. Examples of sudden browser changes include your homepage changing, a third-party toolbar being added, or your default search engine changing to something you don't want.