Simple Online Security: If You Think You've Been Hacked

Blocksurvey blog author
Written by Sarah Ludwig
Dec 20, 2023 · 4 mins read

With the growing reliance on technology daily, online security has become crucial to protecting our personal information. However, despite our best efforts, there is always a risk of being hacked. When you suspect your computer has been compromised, it can be a stressful and overwhelming experience.

In this article, we will provide you with useful information and tips on how to act after you’ve been hacked and what measures help prevent such attacks.

Signs of a hacked computer

Recognizing the symptoms of a possible hack is the first step in responding to the situation. Here are some of them:

  1. Slow computer performance. If your computer takes an unusually long time to start up or load programs, it may be a sign that malware is running in the background and using up system resources.
  2. Pop-ups or ads. Malware often displays pop-ups or ads that are difficult to close or redirect you to other websites. These ads may contain misleading or malicious content, so it's important to avoid clicking on them.
  3. Strange emails or messages. If you receive messages from friends or contacts that contain suspicious links or attachments, hackers may be using their accounts to spread malware. Be cautious of clicking on any links or downloading any attachments from unknown senders.
  4. Changes to your browser settings. Browser-hijacking malware can change your browser settings to redirect you to malicious websites or display unwanted ads. If you notice any unusual changes to your browser, it's important to investigate and take action to remove the malware.

Being aware of the signs of a hacked computer can help you identify and address potential threats before they cause serious damage to your system and personal information. If you suspect your computer has been hacked, immediately disconnect from the Internet and run a malware scan. By taking proactive measures to secure your computer and online accounts, you can prevent future cyber attacks and protect your digital identity.

What to do if you think you've been hacked

If you suspect that your computer has been hacked, there are several steps you can take to address the issue:

  1. Disconnect from the Internet. The first step is disconnecting your computer from the Internet to prevent further damage. Especially if your computer is connected to a network, such as a work or a school network, notify your IT department before disconnecting to avoid disrupting any essential services.
  2. Make your passwords strong. Change your passwords for all your online accounts, including social media, email, and banking. Create strong and unique passwords for each account and consider using a password manager to help you remember them. Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible for an extra layer of security
  3. Run a malware scan. Use antivirus software to run a malware scan on your computer to identify and remove any viruses or malware. If your antivirus software doesn’t detect any malware, try running a second scan with a different program to ensure that all threats are identified and removed.
  4. Check your financial accounts. Monitor your financial accounts for unauthorized transactions and report suspicious activity to your bank. Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions and report them immediately to your financial institution.
  5. Update your software. Ensure your software and operating system are up-to-date to prevent any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. Set your software to update automatically to ensure you have the latest security patches and bug fixes.
  6. Consider professional help. If you aren’t confident in your ability to address the issue, consider seeking a cybersecurity specialist for expert assistance. A cybersecurity expert can help you identify and remove malware, as well as provide recommendations for improving your computer and online security practices.

Thus, the above-mentioned steps provide you with guidance on what to do if computer is hacked. Following them, you will be able to react and respond to the cyber attack immediately. It will limit the damage from being hacked and help make a quick recovery.

Prevention is the key

While it’s important to know what to do if your computer has been hacked, prevention is the best defense against cyber attacks. Here are some tips to help you prevent hacks from occurring:

  1. Use strong passwords. Create strong passwords that are difficult to guess, and use different passwords for each account.
  2. Use antivirus software. Install and regularly update antivirus software to protect your computer from malware.
  3. Be cautious online. Be cautious when opening emails, clicking on links, and downloading files from unknown sources.
  4. Keep your software up-to-date. Ensure that your software and operating system are up-to-date to prevent vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

Using strong passwords, setting up antivirus software, and exercising caution when opening emails, clicking links, and downloading files from untrusted sources are all important preventative measures. Consider seeking assistance from a cybersecurity expert to help you handle the situation.

Additional hints to make your computer secure

You can further strengthen your online security and protect your personal information from cyber threats by using the following practices:

Two-factor authentication

Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.

Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi can put your personal information at risk as these networks are often insecure. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities like online banking or accessing confidential information. Moreover, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and protect your data from prying eyes.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are hackers’ attempts to trick you into providing personal information. Avoid unsolicited emails or messages requesting your login credentials or other personal information. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading any attachments. Instead, go directly to the official website and log in to your account from there. Additionally, consider using an SPF record checker to verify the authenticity of emails, prevent email spoofing and enhance email security.

Backing up your data

Backing up your data regularly can help you recover from a hack or a ransomware attack. Use cloud-based backup solutions or external hard drives to store your data securely. To guarantee that you will be able to restore your data in the event of a hack or data loss, test your backups frequently.

Social media security

Be cautious about the information you share on social media and ensure you can set up your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts and personal information. Review your social media account's security and privacy settings periodically to ensure they align with your preferences and limit who can access your personal information.

Mobile device security

Ensure that your mobile devices are protected with strong passwords, antivirus software, and two-factor authentication. Keep your operating system and apps up-to-date to prevent vulnerabilities hackers may target.


In today's digital age, online security is more critical than ever. As we rely more on technology, the risks of cyber-attacks and identity thefts are also increasing. However, with some simple and effective measures, you can minimize the risk of being hacked and keep your personal information safe.

Regularly updating your software, using strong passwords, and enabling two-factor authentication are just a few examples of good security practices. By implementing these measures and staying vigilant, you can protect your online security and enjoy a safer online experience. Remember, investing in your online security is an investment in your peace of mind.

Simple Online Security: If You Think You've Been Hacked FAQ

What should I do if I think I've been hacked?

The first step is to take immediate action to protect your accounts and systems. Change any passwords you think have been compromised, and run virus scans on your computer. If the hack was more serious, you may need to contact a professional for assistance.

How can I tell if my computer has been hacked?

Some signs that your computer has been hacked include strange activity on your computer, unfamiliar programs and files, or strange emails from your account. You may also notice changes in your system settings and browser.

Is it possible to prevent a hack?

Yes! Taking proactive steps to protect your system is the best way to prevent a hack. This includes using strong passwords, updating your software, and using security software like antivirus and firewall programs.

What should I do to prevent my computer from being hacked?

Install and maintain reputable anti-malware software and use a firewall. Make sure your operating system and all applications are kept up-to-date with the latest security patches. Use strong passwords and avoid clicking on links or downloading files from untrustworthy sources.

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blog author description

Sarah Ludwig

Sarah Ludwig is an American freelance writer. She has been living and working in the former Soviet Union for over 20 years and her writing includes tech, finance, and marketing.


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