What To Do If You Think Your Computer Has Been Hacked Into

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what to do computer hackedHave you ever had your computer hacked, or wondered if some off mouse movement was down to an online intruder?

The threat remains a potent one, but with adequate security software installed on your computer you should find that your data remains intact and private.

However, if you think there is a greater-than-normal chance of intrusion or if you want to be aware of the threats and how to deal with them, use what follows as a starting point for understanding how to deal with a hacked computer.

Spotting a Hack

It is easy to be paranoid about these matters, but knowing how to recognise a hack attack can be tricky.

Vain hackers who are full of their own self-importance might leave you a note – perhaps a bit of desktop graffiti or a malware “timebomb” – but those are rare. Most hacks are courtesy of Trojan software and related automated tools, so uncovering an intrusion – particularly an online one – can prove difficult.

If you suspect a hack, first of all consider why you think this might have happened. Do you have sensitive information stored on your computer? Are you known as someone who might have access to private data? Next, check the files in your directory browser, taking care to note their “Last Modified” times and dates. Do not open the files, however, as doing so might result in the activation of malware.

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Instead, run your anti-virus and anti-malware software, and then make backups of the vital files and folders before opening them.

Checking Your Firewall

Of course, the first thing to do if you suspect a hack attack on your PC is to check your firewall software.

what to do computer hacked

These utilities always update activities to the log, so it is a case of opening the firewall console and working out where the log is stored. If there has been an attempt to hack your computer in the past then this will be recorded.

Don’t take the lack of a successful intrusion record as evidence of no hack attack, however – it might also mean that the perpetrator is skilled in keeping their fingerprints off your ports.

However in 99.9% of cases a good quality firewall will keep your computer secure. See our list of recommended firewalls for more information.

No Firewall? What to do…

If for some reason you don’t already have firewall software installed on your computer (why on earth not?!) then there are other things you can check.

what to do if computer is hacked

Many users connect to the Internet via a router, either at work or in the home, and if you have permission to access this you will be able to view the traffic in and out of your computer. Checking the logs on the router will enable you to determine whether or not your computer has been hacked and if any data has been copied, although beware: this will take a while to track down, so you will need to have a good idea of when the attack occurred.

If a Trojan is running on your system and opened remote access to your computer then you should be able to tell pretty quickly. Slow performance and network activity when you’re not using a web browser, email client, downloading software or an IM client will all point to an intrusion, as will the more obvious loss of control (this is rare however, as hackers would probably use a separate session). If network activity is odd then switching off your router or disconnecting your Ethernet cable is the best solution as the hacker has probably disabled your ability to disconnect within the operating system.

After disconnection, restart your computer, staying offline, and run your anti-virus and anti-malware software. You should also use a secondary computer to download an update to your firewall software and install this on the first device.

Offline Hacking

Unfortunately so many of us are concerned about online hacking that we ignore the much more obvious method of gaining entry to a computer system – in person.

what to do computer hacked

There are various ways of doing this, from using a USB stick with a live operating system installed on it to simply guessing a password (and this is if the user even has a password set on their computer and knows how to lock the screen) and either method can be used to quickly gain access to the data stored on a hard disk drive.

Computer passwords should always be used for the operating system and you should also consider setting a password to boot your computer past the BIOS, thereby preventing the use of a USB live OS.

Similarly, external storage devices should be securely stored in locked cupboards, along with any clue that they even exist. Disc sleeves, cases and USB cables should be tidied away.


With so much to consider, taking steps to protect your data is the best answer. There is no way to protect the data stored on your computer 100%, so taking additional steps is wise. In addition to up-to-date firewall and anti-virus/anti-malware software, consider a registry protection tool and take advantage of any hard disk encryption tools that are available to you. Recent versions of Mac OS X and Windows have this facility built in.

Ultimately, awareness is your most important weapon. Hackers can’t steal data from your computer when it is switched off, for instance, while storing valuable data on removable drives and media that can be locked away or kept on your person will protect you from the effects of hacking.

If you understand the risks, you can take appropriate action.

Image Credit:Laptop and Wall Image Via Shutterstock, Server Room Image Via Shutterstock, Binary Code Image Via Shutterstock

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Comments (28)
  • tapita toleafoa

    I think my pc has been hacked…help.

  • Anonymous

    OK, here’s one for you…. and I swear you will not believe this, but what I am about to write now is as true as true can be. This is why I have kept my identity hidden. Here is my story.
    I’ll aim to keep this short and to the point…
    A couple of years ago… I used to be a member on a cam site with live girls on… this site was MyFreeCams…. Now I am naming them because if anyone has experienced same problems as me, I would seriously consider having your pc checked and fast.
    after a while on this site, I started noticing my pc running slow even just on starting up… i would see little screen flickers which never used to happen. I also after several tests convinced myself…. that whilst I would be on this site watching the cams, it kind of felt they we’re watching me, so to begin with.. I unplugged my webcam.. which was the only source of mic… (now bear this in mind for later) Still convinced they we’re watching me like a tv screen as i was to them, I would log into a non popular girls room where no one was in, holding up different words written on paper.. like… wave to me, or blow me a kiss… and which ever i held up.. was done so immediately by the person on cam. Now this aroused even more suspicion… I know this sounds crazy but believe me this is all real… I would log into different rooms and position myself at different angles to my monitor… sometimes in the middle.. other times right on the left edge or right edge… and immediately the girls would look in my direction where i was sat…. Now with such belief I was being watched too through my computer screen started to freak me out massively… Now bear in mind my only source of mic was my webcam which was unplugged… so i tried one last experiment……. I would go into different rooms where there was no one else there… and really start calling names to the girl on cam, like you ugly slag, pig ugly bitch etc…. and this is where my suspicions was finally confirmed… eventually one of the girls snapped… looked directly at me and shouted “will you fuck off” i swear to god this is true. Now its been confirmed… i was being watched and heard through my monitor… My computer started going mental, flashing flickering, like you would not believe, like they we’re now trying to crash my pc from their end. it was like a scene out of a movie…. I firstly tried to record the goings on with my webcam, but the uninstalled the drivers… I then used a digital camera and started too record…. but they somehow erased the memory card of my camera maybe by some high pitched tone that erases memory cards.. I got to the point where i called a friend over with anything he could record on…. which was at the time the new iphone 4 that he had…. starting to record the screen for video evidence… suddenly his phone beeped and turned off… the entire phone was mysteriously wiped… it was like everything i tried to use to record was being countered with my the people at the other end. What ever i had somehow uncovered… they sure as hell didnt want me knowing about it. my computer was going like lazer lights at a rave party…. to the point where i had to shut it down to stop it blowing. To this day it has still left me very worried as i had never in my life thought someone could hack a computer and turn a computer into a tv to be viewed from where ever it was being hacked from…. But i’m telling you this is happening. The witness i had was my friend who came over with the phone, because even he was slagging off the girls and they we’re all telling him to fuck off too…whilst my computer was being sent mental by their computer hackers. he saw the funny side of it, but it has scared me ever since. Believe this or not…. but every single bit i have said is absolutely true… so if you use this site, or sites like it… be warned, whilst you may enjoy watching these girls…. just bear in mind, if your computer seems slow and glitchy, even without being on their sites….. They are already inside your computer watching you. To this day is scares me. I run 2-3 firewalls and antivirus software and i am checking daily even now. people may think this is a load of crap… but try the simple pen and paper test if you have any doubts..and even the speaking test even if you dont have a mic plugged in… because believe me… if they are in your system,,,they CAN hear you.

    • sTU

      wild story might be true every computer runs on 1s ans 0s would’nt suprise me just piss me off.But that is there whole point anyway dude don’t get to crazy about it if they can do all that they could do worse so if they havent they were just messing with you testing there new hacks.

    • Peri Huhta

      This is exactly what I have been experiencing for a long time now, and I didn’t think I was crazy. Now I know… thank you for this story… what can I do about this? Any advice, Please?? I’m really at a loss for words right now….

    • Don Cortez

      Unplug your monitor when not in use, limit your router access while not on line
      (unplug the RJ45 Cabel to the router) no internet access, no live feed…simple Good Luck!

  • Morgan Partridge

    If your computer is running Windows XP an above phone Microsoft’s technical support helpline.

  • Shana-san

    I was just wondering does Window Defender help?
    As I turned it on does it help to have it on or should I turn it off??

    • Christian Cawley

      You should certainly have it active as it is a useful real-time tool for detecting spyware; indeed, it is one of MIcrosoft’s better utilities!

  • Irshaad Abdool

    do not forget to reset all your important passwords after running full system and anti-malware scans, as maybe during the attacks, your passwords were logged and are being used.

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