Today’s cyber attackers are extremely persistent. The faster you can recognize a sign of a hacked system, and the faster you notify someone for support, the less damage cyber attackers can do. While there is no simple way to determine if you have been hacked, here are some of the most common signs.
- Your anti-virus program has triggered an alert that your system is infected, particularly if it says that it was unable to remove or quarantine the affected files.
- You get a pop-up message stating that your computer is now encrypted, and you must pay a ransom to recover it, or that your computer is infected, and you must call a tech support phone number to fix it.
- There are new accounts on your computer or device that you did not create or new programs running that you did not install.
- Your browser is taking you to unwanted or random websites and you cannot close them.
- Your password no longer works when you try to log in to your system or an online account, even though you know your password is correct. Cyber attackers often will change your password after hacking your account, so they maintain control of it.
- Your friends or coworkers tell you they are receiving odd messages from your email accounts, messages that you know you never sent.
- Your mobile device is causing unauthorized charges to premium SMS numbers or has unexplained, very high data or battery usage.
- You believe you may have accidentally installed suspicious software. Sometimes, you may click on software you did not mean to install and believe it may have infected your computer.
If you see something suspicious, report it. Even if you are not sure that a hack has occurred, it is far better to report a system that is not hacked than to fail to report a system that is.
If you ever believe your computer, mobile device, or work account has been hacked, do not attempt to fix the problem yourself. Instead, stop using it and contact your help desk or information security team immediately.
University IT Help Desk: 940-565-2324
firstname.lastname@example.org | it.unt.edu/helpdesk
Sage Hall, Room 330
The Internet of Things—at Home
You face many of the same online risks at home as you do at work. Here are some steps you can take to create a more cyber secure home.
Every connected home starts with a wireless network, your Wi-Fi network. This is what allows you to wirelessly connect your devices to the internet. Start securing your home by first securing your wireless network.
Your Wi-Fi access point is what controls your wireless network. It came with a default administrator username and password; at a minimum, be sure you change the password after the access point is configured and, if possible, change the default username as well. This helps to ensure that only you can make changes to its configuration.
Next, change the default name of your wireless network, known as the SSID. Choose a name that cannot be tied back to your address or your family name.
SSID is simply the technical term for a network name. When you set up a wireless home network, you give it a name to distinguish it from other networks in your neighborhood. You'll see this name when you connect your computer to your wireless network.
Configure your wireless network to use the strongest encryption available. Older, weaker forms of encryption, such as WEP, wired equivalency privacy, are not secure and should not be used.
WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy, and WPA stands for Wireless Protected Access. WPA2 is the second version of the WPA standard. Using some encryption is always better than using none, but WEP is the least secure of these standards, and you should not use it if you can avoid it.
Choose a strong password for your wireless network and be sure to share it only with people who you want on your network.
Once you have secured your wireless network, the next step is to secure the devices on your network. This begins with knowing what devices you have. Years ago, this was easier, as only your computers were connected to the Internet. Now, smart TVs, gaming consoles, thermostats, baby monitors, and even lights can connect to your home network. Once you know what is connected to your network, take the following steps to protect those devices.
If a device uses a username and password for access, make sure it uses a strong, unique password. Can’t remember them all? Consider using a password manager to manage all of your personal passwords.
Ensure all of your devices' operating systems, browsers, and apps are kept updated. If your device has an auto-update feature, be sure to enable it.
For computers and mobile devices, enable firewalls and anti-virus when possible.
For your personal online accounts, always enable two-step verification whenever possible as this is one of the most effective steps you can take to protect them.
If you have children, consider getting a separate computer or device just for them. Children are very curious and are always trying new things online, which could infect your computer.
Be sure to check with your Internet Service Provider, as they may have resources to help protect your home network.
Finally, be sure you are doing regular backups of your information, such as family pictures or valuable documents. Whether you use external hard drives or Cloud services, choose an automated method that best fits your needs. If one of your computers or devices does get hacked, often the only way you can recover your personal files is from a backup.
You are your own best defense, so use common sense. If something seems odd or too good to be true, it may be an attack.