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How To Tell If Your PC Has Been Hacked

Chrome malware and phishing tips - managed it services dallasSMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) are faced with an increase in cybersecurity attacks recently that can threaten company operations if left unchecked. Breaches can take months to detect which is a scary thought when dealing with sensitive company data, so detecting a breach in a timely manner is in everyone’s best interest. Of course after that, someone needs the tools and knowledge to contain the breach and make sure damage is minimal. First we’ll cover how to detect being hacked, then steps you can take.  


Signs Your Business PC Might Have Been Hacked

  1. Unexplained System Slowdowns or Crashes: If your business PCs start running noticeably slower, crashing frequently, or freezing unexpectedly, it could be a sign of malware or unauthorized access. People who work on the same computer day after day often will notice when things are awry. It could be slower load times, the browser is laggy, or you’re getting error messages that you didn’t before. It’s best to take this in for a checkup with your IT professional to make sure this small problem isn’t a sign of a bigger one.
  2. Unexpected Pop-ups or Advertisements: Keep an eye out for an influx of pop-up ads, especially during non-browsing activities. This could indicate the presence of adware or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) on your systems. Pop-ups may seem like a vestige of the past, and they usually are, but it should be checked out. Computers today do a better job of containing these pop-ups so if you’re seeing more of them, then something might be off with your system.
  3. Changes in System Settings: Hackers often alter system settings to maintain control over compromised PCs. Watch for unauthorized changes like modified desktop backgrounds, browser homepages, or default search engines. This can be a quick way to spot a breach especially if you’re the only one using a computer and you’re seeing changes in the display. Check your system administrator first to see if they made changes on your computer.
  4. Presence of Unknown Programs or Files: Check your PCs for any unfamiliar software or files that were not installed by your IT team. Malicious actors often install backdoors or remote access tools to gain control over your systems. This requires keeping a close on your desktop and file structure, which can be a quick task you take on every week. Even the stray, small file on your desktop that you didn’t download could spell trouble.
  5. Suspicious Network Activity: Monitor network traffic for any unusual patterns or connections to unknown IP addresses. Unexplained outgoing traffic could be a sign of data exfiltration. Checking with your network admin can be a great first step in spotting odd network activity.
  6. Disabling of Antivirus or Security Software: If your antivirus or security solutions are being disabled or overridden without authorization, it could indicate an ongoing compromise. Most of these programs run regular checks so if you notice they’ve stopped or there’s a change in its status without any action from yourself, that could mean you’ve been hacked.
  7. Unauthorized Access to Business Accounts: Keep an eye on your business accounts for any signs of unauthorized access or changes in login credentials. Hackers may leverage stolen credentials to infiltrate your business systems. A good measure to take, especially for business logins, is to set up an MFA.
  8. Ransom Demands or Messages: Discovering ransom notes demanding payment for access to business-critical data indicates a potential ransomware attack.
  9. Phishing Attempts Directed at Employees: A phishing attempt is a deceptive tactic where a hacker tries to get login info or any sensitive data like financial info from a user by acting like they’re a vendor or a website that the person uses. It could be as innocent as clicking a link in an email that gets your compromised. Educate employees to recognize phishing attempts targeting business email accounts. A successful phishing attack can provide hackers with a foothold into your business network.
  10. Missing or Altered Business Files: Pay attention to sudden disappearance or modification of business-critical files. These could be indicators of unauthorized access or data tampering. You can check activity logs for any suspicious activity if you’re not sure who, what or when the activity was and how to proceed from there.


Steps to Take If You Suspect a Cybersecurity Breach

  1. Isolate Affected Systems: Immediately disconnect any suspected PCs from your business network to prevent the spread of malware or unauthorized access. This prevents any more harm done to the system and isolates the problem to later be managed by your IT team. What will likely follow is a forensic analysis of where the breach occurred and what was taken.
  2. Engage Your IT Team or Cybersecurity Provider: Notify your IT team or cybersecurity provider immediately. They can conduct a thorough investigation to identify the scope of the breach and mitigate further risks. For many small businesses, IT can seem like a luxury or afterthought. Some owners see it as enough to merely have devices and a cloud solution with basic security, but that’s often not enough. If you’re a small company and don’t have an IT person on staff, look into outsourcing your IT solutions. BNC is tailor made to help SMBs with their cybersecurity and we’d love to hear from you.
  3. Run Comprehensive Security Scans: Utilize advanced antivirus and anti-malware tools to scan all systems thoroughly. Remove any identified threats and vulnerabilities. There should be a report you get when a scan is run that’ll tell you the results. Unfortunately many people run these scans but don’t follow up on the results so it’s crucial to take action when you see something off.
  4. Implement Incident Response Plan: Activate your business’s incident response plan to coordinate actions and communication during the breach. Ensure key stakeholders are informed and involved in the response efforts. If your company doesn’t have a response plan then one needs to be in place. The two main elements here are the disaster recovery plan and the incident response plan. The DR plan focuses mainly on getting things back in order after a breach or ransom event occurs, while the incident response plan is more the action taken once a breach happens regarding security and isolation.
  5. Update and Patch Systems: Ensure all business PCs, software, and applications are updated with the latest security patches. Patching known vulnerabilities helps protect against future attacks. Keeping up with vulnerabilities that are reported for software that’s used by your company can be a great step. Software companies are good about publishing vulnerabilities and providing updates to mitigate those risks.
  6. Change All Access Credentials: Promptly change passwords for all business accounts and systems. Encourage employees to use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. It goes without saying that once someone gains access to your network, all the “locks” on your business need to be changed.
  7. Educate Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices: Conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions for employees to raise awareness about phishing attacks, safe browsing habits, and password security. User error is a frighteningly common reason for breaches, and it can often be prevented by having training sessions around phishing and other basic cybersecurity measures. This can be crucial with more remote employees and hardware that isn’t checked by your IT professional regularly.
  8. Monitor Financial Transactions and Business Accounts: Keep a close watch on business financial statements and transactions for any unauthorized activity. Report any suspicious activity to your financial institution.
  9. Back Up Critical Data Regularly: Implement automated backups of critical business data to secure locations. Regular backups can help restore operations in the event of data loss or ransomware attacks. OneDrive and other cloud solutions should be running backups regularly but it’s best to check with your sys admin for how to set this up and make sure company data is being backed up properly.
  10. Conduct Post-Incident Analysis: After resolving the breach, conduct a thorough post-incident analysis to identify lessons learned and strengthen your business’s cybersecurity posture. This can be key. A hack isn’t a one time thing and there are hackers all over the world cruising the web looking for vulnerabilities to exploit on the web, especially with companies that may not have the best security posture for their sensitive data


By remaining vigilant and proactive, small to medium-sized businesses can enhance their cybersecurity resilience and protect against potential threats. If you suspect a cybersecurity breach in your business, swift and decisive action is crucial to minimize damage and restore normal operations. Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing effort that requires continuous attention and investment to safeguard your business assets and reputation.


Get In Touch With BNC To Get Started

how to tell if your pc has been hackedYour company may be on the lookout for more comprehensive IT solutions than just secure browsing, and we’re here to help. If you’re looking for an IT company in Dallas or Denver with experienced IT/Security consultants, BNC will work closely with your team to evaluate your specific needs and provide tailored solutions that strengthen your cybersecurity defenses. Don’t wait until a cyber incident occurs to realize the importance of comprehensive cybersecurity measures. Contact BNC managed it services in Dallas & Denver today to begin your journey toward a safer and more secure digital future. Together, we can safeguard your business and protect it from the ever-present threats in the world of cybercrime.



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