Cybercrime aided by hacking is a global problem. And the amount lost to cybercriminals is expected to reach US$8 trillion this year. Is there a way to avoid getting hacked, though? Below, we compiled top tricks and tips to get rid of a hacker on your computer. But first, let’s tackle the top mistakes we make that often land us on hackers’ eagerly waiting laps.
3 Mistakes That Land Us as Hacking Victims
We make more errors than we can count that get us in hacking trouble, of course, but here are the top 3.
- Opening harmful email attachments: While reports say more phishing emails contain malicious links than come with malware-laced email attachments, we can’t deny that many users fall victim to both lures.
- Failing to update your operating system (OS): There’s a reason why your computer regularly prompts you to update not just your software but your OS, too. Hackers are always quick to the draw, so manufacturers should strive to stay on their toes. Do your part—don’t dilly-dally on hitting that Update button.
- Failing to set strong passwords: Strong login credentials, notably hard-to-guess passwords, are your first defense against hackers. If creating complex passwords is too challenging, you can rely on a password manager.
There are instances, though, when you can still get trapped no matter how well you follow the best practices above. How do you get out from unwanted entanglements, then?
How to Get Rid of a Hacker on Your Computer
Here are 10 tips and tricks to get yourself out of a hacking fiasco.
Tip #1: Reset Your Passwords
If your computer gets hacked, it’s safe to assume the hackers have already gotten their hands on your passwords. And in just minutes, they could be mining your social media profiles for personal information, hacking into all your other devices, and stealing your hard-earned money.
The task may seem daunting, especially if you’ve got many online accounts to take care of, but it’s a definite must. Start with financial accounts, then move down the line—end with those that won’t cost you much.
Tip #2: Log out of All Your Online Accounts
Don’t stop at resetting your passwords. Log out of your accounts next. That way, you can be sure that hackers won’t be able to hijack your ongoing sessions or those that remain open even when you close your browser window.
Tip #3: Disconnect from the Internet
To avoid a likely next step on the hackers’ part—session hijacking—shut down your Internet connection. Turn your Wi-Fi off and switch your phone and tablet to airplane mode.
Before going back online, subscribing to a virtual private network (VPN) service may be a good idea to better protect your data via encryption.
Tip #4: Disconnect External Hard Drives, If Any
Hackers can access the data stored on any external drive connected to your computer during an attack. Don’t panic, though. Don’t unplug them without ejecting them first. As an additional step, back up your files on a new hard drive or the cloud, then switch off all power sources.
Tip #5: Scan for Malware
New computers often come with security solutions built in. If yours doesn’t, it’s time to buy and install one. Scan your device thoroughly and fix issues found at once. To do that, just follow the directions on your screen.
Tip #6: Update Your Security Software
A good cybersecurity posture shouldn’t stop at enabling your computer’s built-in security software or installing one. No matter how advanced your solution, it won’t work without the necessary updates.
Tip #7: Wipe Your Hard Drive If Need Be
Sometimes, even the most advanced security solution can’t eliminate certain malware. If that happens, you may need to wipe your hard drive and reinstall your OS. Note that wiping your hard drive means erasing its content permanently. If you don’t know how, take a look at this step-by-step guide for Windows or macOS. So, if you don’t want to lose some files, back them up, provided they aren’t infected or have been corrupted.
Tip #8: Call Your Bank
If hackers successfully crack your bank accounts wide open, you can be sure they’ll drain them. So if your computer has been hacked, call your bank to stop all withdrawals and credit card purchases.
Tip #9: Closely Monitor Your Finances
After getting hacked, keep a close eye on your online spending. Check your bank and credit card account balances for unauthorized withdrawals and charges. And should you discover anomalies, contact your bank at once.
Tip #10: Let Your Contacts Know
Cybercrime is just like any legitimate business. The more customers (victims, in cybercriminals’ case) they have, the better. And what more straightforward way to get new “leads” than to start with victims’ contacts? So if you don’t want to become a pawn, let your friends and family know you’ve been hacked so they won’t be next.
While hacking has become rampant, it’s not impossible to prevent. All you need is to remember the tips we named and practice them as best you can.