Check if you have been hacked

Look out for the following warning signs:

  • Your contacts have been spammed

  • Your password does not work

  • You cannot update your system

  • Your computer runs slowly

  • Your hard drive makes loud noises

  • Your antivirus has been disabled

  • You get pop ups and ads

  • You cannot access websites

  • Unrecognised purchases

  • New programmes on your computer

If you have been hacked, you should do these things to make sure you minimise the risk to your sensitive information:

Change your passwords

Hackers usually try to steal your email address and password, because people often use the same combination for several accounts.

Change your passwords to something 10-20 characters long, which includes upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. This reduces your chances of being hacked.

Your password should be memorable but unique and you should avoid using anything that can be easily linked to you. For example, birthdays, addresses, or names.

You should also avoid using the same password for more than one account, and set new passwords for every online account you use to stay safe.

Get your accounts back

If you have been hacked, each email or social media account has a process you can follow to regain control:

You may get an email telling you your account was hacked, explaining how to reset your security. Make sure it is legitimate before following any links as it could be from hackers.

Tell friends and family

Tell your friends and family to delete suspicious emails or social media messages that appear to be from you.

Hackers send messages from accounts they get control of to trick others into opening links which extract sensitive information, like login details.

Let your friends and family know you have been hacked by sending an email, or by updating your status on Facebook or Twitter.

Check your bank accounts

If hackers have stolen your bank account details, they could make fraudulent purchases in your name.

Your bank should contact you if there is unusual activity on your account, but keep an eye on your statements so you can quickly spot any transactions not made by you.

Your bank will never email or call you asking for your bank details; if you are asked for this information, it could be hackers posing as your bank.

If you find that money has been taken from your account, contact your bank immediately so they can put a stop on any other transactions and cancel your card.

Scan for viruses

Some viruses infect your computer and detect the passwords you type into online accounts. They may eventually take over your computer, so you are unable to log in and the hackers can take control.

Scan your computer using your antivirus software to remove malicious software. If you do not have antivirus, download it free from the AVG website.

Here is more information about protecting your computer from viruses and malware.

Secure your WiFi

Secure your home broadband network to prevent hackers from stealing your sensitive information.

You should avoid using public WiFi to check your online banking, because it is more vulnerable to hacking and your information could easily be stolen.