What to do if you think you've been hacked

How to tell and what to do

concerned woman on laptop

In This Article

• More people are now working from home

• Hacking attacks are on the rise

• There are several signs you can look for

• Don't panic! Just follow these steps

• How to prevent hack attacks in the future

(No time to read right now? Just want to see the list of things to know? Here you go.)


Many more people are now working from home and using online services from their personal computers, tablets, and phones. Hackers are taking advantage of this new opportunity.

computer hackerThey're using several techniques, including spam and phishing email with messages about Covid-19 and the vaccine, because they know it they will get people's attention.

The hackers' goal is to install malware or ransomware on your devices and/or to collect personal information so they can steal your identity to sell on the dark web.

How to Tell If You've Been Hacked

There are some telltale signs that you've been hacked.

  Look for suspicious activity in your online accounts

  Check your social media accounts for posts or connections you didn't make

  Run a full virus scan periodically and carefully check the results

  Look for browser toolbars you did not install

  Be aware of pop-ups you get outside of your web browser

  See if your browser or operating system settings have been changed or reset

  See if a web site you use is on the list of breached websites

  Look for intruders on your WiFi network…


  Click the “Start” icon in the lower left corner  

  Enter “view network computers and devices”

  Look for unusual items


  Open “Finder”

  Click “Go” in the menu bar

  Click “Network”

  Look for unusual items

What to Do

panicked womanIf you think you've been hacked, don't panic.

Take a deep breath, then disconnect your computer from the Internet, either by turning off its WiFi connection or unplugging your router.

That will prevent any active connections from hackers (that you might not notice) from doing any further damage.

Then follow these steps:

  Immediately change your passwords to strong ones even for unaffected accounts

  Don't use the same password on more than one site

  Enable multi-factor authentication

  Clear your browser cache and cookies

  Alert credit bureaus, banks, credit card companies, and online merchants (like Amazon) you use regularly that your accounts there might have been compromised and ask them to reset the accounts for you

How to Prevent a Hack Attack

Obviously, it's better to prevent a hack than to recover from one. Here are some things you can do to avoid being hacked:

  Periodically log into your online accounts and look for anything suspicious

  Pay attention to login alerts you get via email from Google, Apple, Facebook, PayPal, Amazon, etc.

 Note the date, time, and location of the login attempt. If you're sure it wasn't you, contact the company by going directly to them in your web browser (do not click a link in the email)

 But be aware that the email might not be legitimate, especially if it mentions a web site or service you do not use. See this article about phishing emails.

  Follow good password habits

 password fieldMake sure your passwords are not on this list

 Use strong passwords

 Never use the same password in more than one place

 Use multi-factor authentication

 Do not save passwords in your web browser

  Never use “findable” answers when you set up security questions (like mother's maiden name or high school mascot)

  Close zombie accounts (sites / services that you no longer use)

  Don't overshare information on social media or other online sites that a hacker could use to break into your accounts


Many people get hacked and don't even know it. Hackers are taking advantage of people working from home. They're using phishing and other techniques to harvest personal information and install malware.

We've explained ways you can detect if you've been hacked and what to do about it. Perhaps more importantly, we've shown you steps to take that help you avoid getting hacked in the first place.


If you have any questions about anything here or if there's an issue you'd like us to write about please let us know.

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