We are all becoming good at being very aware when we’re on our work and home devices. There’s been a concerted effort by risk professionals to keep cybersecurity front of mind at all times. Nearly everyone has fallen into the trap of at least one online scam, which leads us to become ever more cautious. We know to carefully look over emails we were not expecting for signs of a phishing attempt, taking note of the sender’s address, watching for grammatical errors, and not clicking on links. We make our passwords long and strong, and the use of a secure password manager is increasingly common. We update our computer’s security software often, never enter sensitive information into insecure websites, and are cautious when using public wi-fi.
All of these steps are in an attempt to avoid being hacked, which is disruptive and costly. Even when taking the greatest of care and using every precaution, a breach can still happen. But, what does “getting hacked” look like? Is it obvious when it happens? And, if so, what steps can be taken to mitigate the damage as much as possible?
Tell-tales there is something very wrong
Malware varies greatly, and each different program has a different purpose. It could be something relatively small, like accessing your email to send out mass amounts of spam, to taking over your entire computer and rendering it virtually useless. It could stay around for a minute or stay for a while. Depending on the circumstances, you may not even notice anything until it’s too late.
Often, however, there are some signs that you are being hacked.
- Your computer, cellphone, tablet, or whatever device you are using suddenly slows down or restarts on its own
- You are using a lot more data than usual
- Everything is loading very slowly
- Your programs and apps are glitchy or won’t work
- A lot of pop-up ads start to appear
- You notice strange activity on your accounts, such as you suddenly have a lot of new friends
- Mass emails being sent to all of your contacts plus many more
- Strange programs or apps that you didn’t download appear
- There are password changes that you didn’t make
- Pages open on their own or there are odd tabs in your browser
- Files have been deleted, altered, or saved under different file names
What to do if a hack is underway
Taking quick action when being hacked can help save your device, its contents, and a whole lot of added expense and extra time. You do have some time to try to save your information if you are being hacked.
The first and most important thing to do is to disconnect your device from the internet.
Then, on a separate device you believe to be safe, change the passwords of accounts you hope to remain unaffected by the malware.
Then, if you are able, take note of details about the virus that may be available, such as what you noticed first, the progression of incidents, and if you potentially received any correspondence from the hackers. This may help computer security experts determine where the virus came from, and help computer software experts to retrieve your data properly.
We suggest taking your device to an expert to be repaired and to ensure all traces of the virus are gone.
Are you being held for ransom?
Becoming more and more common, ransomware is aggressive and scary. It will take over your device and lock everything up, then demand a payment before it will let you back in. It’s easy to panic and hand the money over, but experts agree that this only incentivizes the hackers and helps fund criminal organizations.
Knowing what kind of ransomware has infected your computer goes a long way towards beating it. That’s why it’s important to try to take now of any signs as to who is behind the attack, such as a “company” name, avatar or handle, email address, and so on. If you have that information, you can check to see if there’s an antidote available or a way to reverse the damage.
Don’t forget, you are the victim of a crime
It’s easy to be embarrassed to be the victim of a cybercrime, but don’t forget that you are a victim. If you have been threatened or harassed, have suffered financial damages, or been held hostage, the Calgary Police Services’ cybercrime unit wants to know about it. File a complaint with your local district office, then contact your bank and other creditors with the police file number. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports through Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada and file a report through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Additional insurance to fight the cyber world
Cybersecurity insurance can be purchased through most home insurance and business insurance plans. They are designed by experienced cybersecurity professionals in conjunction with the insurance industry and cover for losses and liabilities for a range of cyber scams including:
- Privacy breaches (first-party and third-party)
- Computer hacking
- Identity theft
- Phishing scams
- Internet extortion
- Breaches of cyber security
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
Talk to us at Lane’s
We at Lane’s are always here to answer any questions you may have about your insurance policies. We are able to access the best options available from several of Canada’s top providers to give you an excellent chance of better insurance coverage for less. Give us a call so we can get to know you and your insurance situation. Contact us at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton and greater Alberta offices.