With cybercrime on the rise, it’s more important than ever to be wary of the sites you visit, the links you click and the messages you respond to. Even the most vigilant among us can fall victim to cybercrime if we’re not careful, having our passwords exposed or accounts infiltrated. You may not even realise your information has been compromised unless you know what to look for – so here are some tips to help you determine if you’ve been hacked.
One of the easiest ways to check the security of your personal information is by using websites that allow you to search for your personal information and let you know if you’ve been exposed in data breaches or had account information shared online. ‘Have I Been Pwned?’ is a great, easy-to-use tool for finding out if your email address or phone number has been breached. It even lists the individual breaches you’ve been a victim of, what kinds of data have been compromised and when and where your information has been shared. ‘Dehashed’ is another service that performs a more thorough search of your information and allows you to also check usernames, addresses and full names that may be compromised. Whilst you need an account to use Dehashed, you’ll be able to remove any instances of personal data leaks you may find.
Certain websites are prone to being victims of cybercrime, particularly those with a large user base or those that host comprehensive user information. It’s important that you regularly check the websites you frequent in case they’ve been attacked and your information has been exposed. By using website security services, such as Sucuri Site Checker, you can enter any website address to check for security risk levels, whether the site contains malware or if it has been blacklisted. ‘Have I been Pwned?’ and ‘Self Key’ also have similar features, which list recently breached websites. If you have an account on a website that has been attacked, it is a good idea to change your account details – you can’t always rely on the website to be honest with their users when they’ve been hacked.
It’s quite normal to see the occasional pop-up ad, spam email or website redirect, and this may not immediately be a cause for alarm, but if you start to notice an increase in certain suspicious actions when browsing the web or checking your emails, it may be a sign that your information has been leaked. In particular, if you start receiving large amounts of spam emails, texts or phone calls, there’s a good chance that you’ve been hacked, or your email address and phone number have been leaked. You may also have trouble logging into some accounts as your password isn’t working. While you may just be forgetful, it could be an indicator that someone has accessed your account and changed your password. If you’re the type of person to reuse passwords, it’s important that you change the password on your other accounts
A common indicator that you’ve been hacked (particularly on social media), is that you may notice unfamiliar actions performed on your profile, such as posts or messages. These posts will often advertise some product or service and tag many other accounts, as this will allow them to hack anyone who clicks the link. Similarly, if you’ve been hacked, your account might send a message to your friends with a vague or misleading message, prompting them to click a link that will allow them to infiltrate their account. In these situations, those who’ve been targeted by your hacked account may reach out to you to let you know you’ve been hacked.
Though you may not be familiar with all aspects of the web browser on your computer or phone, a good way to tell if you’ve been hacked or have a computer virus is by checking for unexpected or suspicious software, browser extension/plugins or toolbars. A quick and easy solution to this is to have a look at your recent downloads for programs and items you don’t recognise. Alternatively, check the extensions and plugins in the browser menu and after verifying, delete any suspicious apps or programs you find.