What To Do If You Have Been Hacked

There are a few things that cause you to have that ‘sinking feeling’ in life. We will be talking about one of them today – being hacked and what to do if it happens to you.

Switching on the TV or looking at social media news, constantly reminds us of the heightened level of cyber-attacks.  In 2017-2018, 76 percent of businesses were victims of a phishing attack1. And, over 92% of malware infections were delivered via email2.

Small to midsize businesses are simply not immune to cyber-attacks. We find ourselves in a situation of not if, but when, our company is hacked. In this article, we will explore what being hacked can look like and how to fix it.

Tell-Tale Signs You’ve Been Hacked

There are many ways that computer hacking happens. They include ransomware, which encrypts files then asks for payment to decrypt them to ‘bots’ which take over a computer and turns it into a slave to do the bot’s bidding.

If you become infected by any of the malware out there you often experience tell-tale signs:

  1. An on-screen message pops up – this is usually associated with a ransomware infection. It will let you know you’re infected and will insist on a payment in exchange for a decryption code.
  2. A pop-up ad – this is not a threat like a ransomware on-screen note. Instead, you will get random ad type messages pop-up whenever you open a browser.
  3. Your computer feels hot and/ runs slowly – malware often requires a lot of computer resources to run. This makes your computer run slowly and often overheat.
  4. Freezing and crashing a lot – assuming your computer is not extremely old, and that you keep it patched with updates, it should not randomly crash, and applications should not freeze constantly. If they do, chances are you have a malware infection.

Even if you don’t have any tell-tale signs you could still be infected. Malware variants are continuously changing and often are specifically designed to work in a stealth-like manner. This works well for the cybercriminal as it means the malware is less likely to be found and eradicated.

Ways to Deal with a Hack

If you are hacked, you need to contain the infection and remediate the incident. Hacks can be caused by many different routes. But once the hack has occurred there are several things you can do to contain the problem:

Disconnect and isolate: Many infections begin in one location and then move across a network to cause widespread infection. Ransomware, for example, can infect across a network and out into Cloud repositories, encrypting files as it goes.

Make sure your machine is disconnected from the rest of your network. This means unplugging the network cable and switching off your Wi-Fi connection. Take care to do this manually as some malware will trick you into thinking the computer is disconnected when it isn’t.

Decontaminate: Removing a malware infection can be tricky. Full decontamination is a process. One thorough way to eradicate an infection is to first remove the infected hard drive. Next, connect it as a non-bootable drive to another uninfected computer. Then, run an up to date anti-virus/anti-malware package from the host PC, to scan and quarantine any malware files on the drive. Now, remove any important files and documents from the hard drive before finally wiping the drive using a secure disk erase utility. You will then have to reinstall the operating system.

Change passwords: Malware infections can be used to log keyboard strokes, collecting passwords as they are used. Change any account passwords that may have been accessed via the infected computer.

Alert others: Make sure colleagues and your IT department know about the breach so they can check for any further breaches. Your company may also have to make a breach notification to relevant authorities as is required by some data protection regulations.

Reduce the risk of it happening again: Using a professionally managed cybersecurity service company reduces the chances of your organization being hacked in the first place. Even if you do end up being hacked, a managed services company can help to professionally and efficiently contain an infection or a breach. For example, if the hack involved ransomware infection, files and documents would likely be encrypted and lost.  An outsourced managed services company would be able to swiftly deal with the infection, remove it, and possibly recover any deleted files (some ransomware will make copies of files, encrypt the copy, and delete the original).

In addition, if you do choose to outsource cybersecurity, the managed service company will put a secure backup system in place before an infection happens. In which case, you will be able to fully recover files to replace those encrypted.

Managed CyberSecurity Services Have Your Back

In terms of health, “prevention is better than cure”, someone once said. The same is true of our cybersecurity health. Preventing a cybersecurity incident means you don’t have to deal with the aftermath. Remediation of a data breach and a hacked network, takes time; IBM finding that the average time to spot a breach being 197 days3 and then to contain it, a further 69 days. In that time, you have lost money, reputation, and suffered other intangible damages.

With cybercrime at an all-time high, we have to use proven methods to help us fight back. Managed Cybersecurity Services gives us the tools to reduce the likelihood we will suffer a cyber-attack, but it goes further. Having a completely hardened, 100% secure system is never possible; cybercriminals continuously change their tactics. Having an experienced team like those offered by Novatech managed cybersecurity services on call, means you are covered, no matter what level of cyber-incident has happened. Novatech will always have your back. Novatech: The Right Choice for Your IT Support

Sources:

  1. https://www.symantec.com/security-center/threat-report
  2. https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/three-quarters-organizations-experienced-phishing-attacks-2017-report-uncovers/
  3. https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/861MNWN2

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