Are we afraid that a hacker has taken over our computer? Let’s see how to find out.
How many times have we had the uncomfortable feeling of being hacked?, even if the computer appears to be working fine and shows no signs of infection or impending problems. This is possible because, compared to what we believe about hackers (who are always very explicit and “noisy” on TV and in movies), they leave no traces of their passage and, if they decide to spy on you for a long time and to control our PC, they will have every interest in not being “discovered.”
If we too have this feeling or just want to check the computer we use every day, we will show you in this guide all the methods to be able to recognize a hacked PC so that we can take appropriate action and save personal information, account information, and credit card numbers saved in browsers.
1) Weird messages on our accounts or chats
A good method to find out if we have been hacked could be difficult to interpret since it also involves colleagues, friends, or relatives. In fact, it can happen that we receive a warning message (on WhatsApp or on other channels) from an acquaintance of ours, who informs us of a strange message from us on Facebook, Instagram or any other social tool: in fact they are warning us that someone is posing as us and is writing things that do not reflect our personality or that are clearly fake or compromising.
Identity theft or compromise of social accounts are one of the most effective methods to discover that they have been hacked, since some people will immediately let us discover the mystery and warn us.
When in doubt, if we receive these warning messages and we fear that it itself is a threat, we completely change platforms (if we are using the PC, we switch to the smartphone or tablet, and vice versa) and check our social accounts. Some hackers are so clever that they can start the RAT Trojan precisely by exploiting this type of mental weakness after having hacked the accounts of our friends or relatives.
After scaring us, they spy on us just as we enter a username or password, perhaps with the help of a keylogger (which steals the digital words on the keyboard).
2) Unable to use security tools or antivirus
Another obvious sign of a hacked PC is the inability to access some menus or system tools. To avoid being “kicked out,” the hacker will turn off the antivirus and to make both Activity Management (Task Manager) and other menus that can compromise your hacking work inaccessible (for example, Windows Update).
If one of these menus is no longer accessible even after a system reboot, we must assume that we have been hacked.
3) Unable to access personal accounts or devices
Another symptom of hacking going on is the inability to access personal accounts or devices you use every day, including PCs, tablets, and phones.
Being unable to access your accounts despite having the correct password is a big problem, since most likely the password has already been compromised. In this case, we can only report the problem to the service manager or try a password recovery.
4) The mouse cursor moves by itself
The first thing that can make you suspect a hacker attack concerns the mouse cursor: passing by chance in front of the PC when we haven’t been sitting for a while, we may have noticed a fully automatic mouse movement without us having even touched the pointing device.
Even if this sign doesn’t automatically mean “we’re under attack,” it could be an indication not to be overlooked: if there are no problems with the drivers or with the device itself, the mouse should never move by itself! The best hackers can spy on what we do through a RAT. Trojans are a dangerous virus that allows the hacker to see everything we do on the PC and control it remotely, so that we can copy our passwords or login credentials.
Perhaps the mouse moved by itself because our computer is infected with a RAT Trojan, and therefore, taking advantage of our moment of pause, the hacker decided to try to take control by moving the mouse remotely.
5) Strange bank or card transactions
This is undoubtedly the most dangerous method to discover: at any moment, our checking accounts and our payment accounts (PayPal) or e-commerce accounts (Amazon) are emptied of all money, leaving us completely broke or even in debt to the bank (if the account allows the deficit).
In these cases, all we have to do is change the passwords of the compromised accounts immediately and contact the bank or the compromised site, so that we can start system checks and provide (as far as possible) to block the transitions before it’s too late.
6) New unknown programs appear
Another obvious sign that a PC is compromised is the appearance of new programs among those already present in the Start menu or in the folder Programs on the system disk.
Although this thing could easily be confused with the bloatware accompanying some laptops with Windows 10 or Windows 11, the appearance of new programs never seen before and never started could be a clear sign of a hacker hidden in our PC and ready to steal our personal data or our checking accounts.
If we fear that unknown programs are actually bloatware that has always been present on the PC, we invite you to read our guide, Remove pre-installed programs, trials, and trial versions.
7) Possible resolutions to hacker attacks
After having suffered a hacker attack, we can still take precautions so that it doesn’t happen again, making life more difficult for any attacker who wants to take control of our systems and accounts.
- We change all passwords: we immediately change the password of both accounts compromised by hacking and sensitive accounts, so as to prevent subsequent unauthorized access.
- Let’s enable two-factor authentication: with two-factor authentication significantly increase the level of security when using online accounts, since you need to enter a second security code to log in (sent via email, SMS or authenticator app such as Microsoft Authenticator, available for android and for iPhones/iPads).
- We always keep apps and operating system up to date: with an always up-to-date operating system and app fleet, it is difficult to leave room for a hacker, who will therefore have to work hard to overcome the updated defenses of the system or the most vulnerable apps (such as browsers).
- We use a premium antivirus: Premium antivirus offers more protection and effective system cleaning against trojans and other hacking tools. We can choose the new antivirus in our guide on how to try premium antivirus.
- We avoid spam and phishing: We do not reply to any suspicious emails or messages, click on any links, and do not download any programs or apps included as attachments.
- We use a VPN in public places: if we often use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, it is always advisable to combine it with a good VPN service, so as to encrypt the connection and make it impossible for a hacker hidden in the same network to intercept it; to learn more, we can read our guide to the best VPN subscription that is faster, more reliable and without limits.
By applying these tips, we will certainly be less exposed to computer threats and hacker attacks.
If the person attacking us is a really good and experienced hacker, we will probably never be able to kick it out of our computer or our Internet network. In this case, it is better to resign or disconnect the Internet line for a while, perhaps using a LTE bar of soap on a new computer with Linux to be able to work or navigate without problems.
The recommendations we can give you to keep hackers away are always the same: always keep our computers up to date, install a good antivirus program, and avoid opening suspicious or dubious links received via email or chat.
If your PC or phone is now compromised, it may be a good idea to format everything by reading our guides on how to format and install Windows from scratch, how to format Android, and how to factory reset iPhone and iPad.