Has your computer been hacked?
Internet users with lackluster security aren’t the only ones racing to Google in a panic to search “how to tell if my computer has been hacked.” No matter how careful you are online, you’re a potential target for hackers. (Yup, even if you use good passwords and practice smart online security.) Giant data breaches at megacorporations may get the most media attention, but cybercriminals don’t discriminate; they’re as likely to target an individual as a global company.
“The unfortunate truth about cybersecurity is that many people don’t think about it until it’s too late,” says Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO of consumer cybersecurity company Aura. “In 2021, the FBI received over 550,000 complaints of these crimes from Americans, with reported losses exceeding $6.9 billion.”
The fact is, hackers will prey on anyone with vulnerabilities, whether those are easy-to-guess passwords or public information that makes doxxing easier. The scary thing is that you may not know your computer has been compromised. Spyware, for instance, lurks on your computer like a sneaky data thief. And phishing scams can seem legit. If fear has you searching “how to tell if my computer has been hacked,” you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up the top 15 signs, according to online security experts.
How do hackers get access to your computer?
Hackers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to stealing your information. Viruses and malware, including spyware and ransomware, make the most of security gaps, sneaking onto your system and stealing your data. But there’s another type of hacking that’s even easier: social engineering. As Ravichandran points out, “Hackers and scammers know there’s one vulnerability they can always exploit: you.”
Social engineering attacks use the human loophole to get around cybersecurity roadblocks. “Instead of hacking your accounts to steal your identity, they hack you by using phishing attacks, imposter frauds, and other scams,” he says. It’s what’s known as human hacking.