Online security

30 August 2017

What should you do if you are hacked?

Nowadays, everyone wants to protect their computer and mobile devices (tablet and smartphone) as best they can. However, even if you have taken precautions by installing an anti-virus, it is possible that your devices may one day be hacked. How can you determine if one of your devices was hacked? What to do if this happens? Discover below our practical advice on how to act quickly.

Hacking: identifying the signs

There is no exact method for determining if your device, be it a computer, tablet or smartphone, has been hacked. However, hackers often do leave behind little signs. We have listed the most common of these for you.

1. For computers:
  • Your password no longer works.
  • Your acquaintances receive spam from you.
  • Your anti-virus indicates that your system has been infected and that it was unable to delete or quarantine a compromised file.
  • Your navigator redirects you to websites that are of no interest to you, or your homepage has changed.
  • Strange windows open up unexpectedly when you are surfing the internet.
  • A programme asks for authorization to make changes to your system when you are not currently conducting any updates.
2. For mobile devices:
  • You see unauthorised charges on your invoice to premium SMS numbers.
  • Data appear inexplicably on your screen.
  • The battery drains very quickly (more so than usual).
  • Icons appear for applications you have not downloaded.
3. For both types:
  • Accounts you have not created show up.
  • Programmes are installed automatically.
  • Your computer or mobile applications constantly freeze.
How to act quickly to reduce risks?

A few simple action can be taken quickly if you suspect hacking. Especially if this is a personal device. If you think your work computer has been hacked, it is best not to take action yourself. It is safer to report the concert to your employer by contacting the help desk or notifying your manager, for example.

1. Change your passwords

You should change all your passwords, both for your computers and your mobile devices. Of course you should make these changes from a safe and secure computer. Be sure to read our recommendations for creating passwords that are difficult to hack.

2. Follow your anti-virus

Generally speaking, you can follow the recommendations of your anti-virus. It will certainly tell you to quarantine, clean up or delete the compromised file.

3. Reinstall your operating system

This is a bit more complicated, but manufacturers generally give instruction in the manual they provided with the product or on their websites. Note: if you restore your device from a back-up, make sure that the back-up was not itself contaminated, for example by testing it with an up-to-date anti-virus.

Some older computers or phones no longer support recent updates. Their operating system therefore has security gaps that are no longer up to date. Continuing to use these devices will increase the risk of being hacked.

Good to know:

Whether you reinstall your system or buy a new device, be sure to carry out all updates. It is a good idea to turn on automatic updating.

4. Make sure you back your work up regularly

The more often you back your work up, the better. Whatever the back-up method you choose, you always have to be sure to be able to recover your files.

What now?