What Are Signs That a Computer Has Been Hacked?

Daniel Allan/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images

Any unexpected activity that originates from a user’s computer account, including email and access to specific websites, or change to the operation of the computer itself is typically a sign that the system has been hacked. Computer hacking is a serious issue that continues to grow.

Hacking will change the functioning and perhaps contents of a computer. There are a number of common signs that a computer has been hacked.

  • Fake antivirus messages – these take the user to a site asking for credit card information with a bogus report indicating multiple virus infections
  • Emails (spam) sent from an account without the user’s knowledge
  • New programs on the computer
  • Passwords have changed
  • Unexplained increase in network activity (as the hacker accesses the system remotely)
  • Internet searches that are unexpectedly redirected
  • Persistent pop-up windows
  • Security programs such as antivirus or anti-malware programs are disabled or uninstalled and can’t be rebooted
  • Mouse moves on its own to select programs or options
  • Browser has been changed

The best solution to a hacking episode, if it is available and depending on the operating system, is to restore the computer to a point where it was known to be in good operating condition. A full restore is typically the only way to ensure the problems don’t linger.