4 signs your device or account has been compromised – and how to respond
As manufacturers of computing devices and software developers make major or minor improvements to devices, programs or address compatibility issues, they release updates. Regularly updating your system ensures that you are running the most current supported and vulnerability-free version.
Should you overlook your required software updates, you will enable a malicious actor to take advantage of bugs and security holes within your unpatched device or software.
Here are 4 signs that your device or online account has been compromised by a malicious actor, and recommended actions to respond to these situations.
1. Random browser pop-ups
Receiving random pop-ups while browsing websites that usually don’t show them is a clear sign that your device has been compromised.
Some legitimate websites can bypass ad-blockers and show unwanted pop-ups, however if this unexpectedly happens while browsing a site you regularly visit, you should be worried. In this scenario, immediately launch an antivirus scan so you can determine whether or not there is a virus and begin the process of eradicating it from your system.
2. Unexpected software is installed
If software automatically installs itself without your knowledge or consent, this is another sign that your device has been compromised. Some software may install additional tools but legitimate software will provide a clear indication for user permission first.
If you notice new unexpected software on your system that you did not give permission to download, it’s likely that these programs are malicious.
Check your installed programs and remove any that are unwanted or suspicious. It can be difficult to determine which programs are malicious, but an antivirus scanner can detect which programs contains viruses and remove them from your device.
3. Your passwords are not working
If you attempt to log in to a platform which you use regularly and you’re denied access, it is a sign that your account has been compromised.
This does not apply if the platform is experiencing technical problems or you have inputted details incorrectly, but if you are sure that these are not the case, then it is likely that someone stole your details and changed the password.
If the compromised account is personal, change all your passwords through a ‘Forgot your password’ link to stop further breaches. Assess your accounts for damage and ensure that all future passwords are strong and complex.
If the compromised account is work related, ensure your company IT team is aware of the breach so they can provide guidance and prevent further damage to the network. Run an antivirus scan to ensure no viruses persist on your system.
4. Unexplained online activity
Always monitor the content that is sent from your email, social networks or other online platforms. If you notice sent emails or posts that you don’t remember sending, begin to be suspicious, unauthorized activity on your accounts is a clear sign that your account has been compromised.
In a case like this, change all the passwords to your accounts and ensure these passwords are strong and complex. Assess your accounts for damage and run an antivirus scan to ensure your device is healthy.