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5 Signs That Your Network Has Been Hacked

By August 22, 2018November 2nd, 2018No Comments7 min read

Network hacks are already incredibly common and their severity and frequency are increasing every year. Statistics from a joint study by Accenture and the Ponemon Institute in 2017 show that an average company experiences 130 security breaches per year, an annual increase of more than 24 percent.

In addition, a stand-alone finding from the National Cyber Security Alliance revealed that 60 percent of small to medium-sized businesses have shut down within six months of a hack.

Cybercriminals have different goals when they stage attacks. They may be of interest to valuable data that they can sell on the black market, or they may want to damage a company’s reputation so badly that the resulting damage lasts months and is disproportionately costly.

Hackers are also making big profits out of their publicity, whether through more recognition from like-minded criminals or because their vile deeds are making the headlines.

The first step in stopping network attacks is to detect signs of problems. Here are five common symptoms of a computer hacker breaking into a computer network.

1. Ransomware Messages

Ransomware messages are the most obvious signs of network attacks, as they often appear on the home page of websites and restrict access to content, as long as victims do not transfer a specific fee online to a hacker.

These attacks do not happen just because an employee visits an infected website during working hours. Sometimes, the problems start with a person opening an e-mail or spam message that directs the recipient to go to a website for malware or download infected files. Often, they look legitimate so that the recipient does not think twice about acting as the email instructs. Then hackers install ransomware encryption on the recipient’s computer and penetrate the corporate network connections.

Statistics from 2016 showed an increase in ransomware attacks of 6,000 percent over this type of content. Many may be surprised that most victims paid the imposed fees that year.

How to react:  The best approach is not to pay the required amount and immediately Contact us to seek an expert advice from the Bleuwire™ Team. Businesses should also shut down and disconnect all infected parts of their systems to prevent further damage. You should also inform the law enforcement authorities.

Ransomware messages often affect companies of all types and sizes, and having a plan to deal with them in case of an attack is critical. Securing data and implementing a disaster recovery solution can dramatically help organizations get things right after the attacks.

2. Computers work without internal input

If a mouse pointer is moving alone or it seems someone is controlling things from outside, this is another sign of computer hacking. This is a Remote Desktop hack. Such an attack can be scary for everyone involved because it is so obvious that something is wrong and the equipment is not secured.

How to respond: Businesses can respond by immediately disconnecting all affected computers, then trying to locate the entry point and monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity. Next, they should perform a virus scan, log out of any programs or services on an affected machine, and set up new passwords for everything.

3. People receive strange messages that are not from the true account holder

Some network problems start with people in a victim’s contact list receiving strange emails from them. These typically include links or attachments, as hackers can easily harm other people who interact with them.

For example, a person with a hacked account may unknowingly send messages to anyone in their contact lists who download files. The message could say something seemingly innocuous, such as asking colleagues to “download these files from a presentation I participated in”.

When the recipients swallow the bait and download the files, the hacker gains more reach as other computer users in a company infect their computers. Because you trust that the virus-infected attachment contains necessary, company-specific information, you agree to transfer malware to your systems and, in turn, to the entire network.

These types of messages distributed by hackers can also be encountered on team communication platforms such as Slack or Skype.

How to react: People should contact the associated services to inform them about compromised accounts. It may also be helpful for them to learn password protection strategies, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) or a time-based one-time password (TOTP).

Sometimes these messages are not because hackers break into accounts. Instead, they occur when hackers use spoofing and phishing attempts to send emails that seem to come from the person, but only because they look so authentic.

Companies can try to avoid future problems of this nature by informing employees about types of online content that could pose risks. Research shows, for example, that context and curiosity are two of the most common triggers for people clicking on a link that a hacker has set up, and the relevant context is particularly compelling.

If the content accompanying the link matches a person’s need or life situation, or if it only seems interesting, the ingredients are there to potentially force a person to click and possibly contribute to a network infection. In addition, companies can educate their employees on what phishing attempts look like by showing them emails that seem to come from reputable companies but in reality are just trying to steal passwords or other sensitive data.

4. Files on the network are suddenly encrypted

Another type of ransomware attack may not be the same as the previously described messages. Hackers encrypt files and block access to them until the victims have paid the required sums.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible for normal people to detect encrypted files until they click on them and can not open them. Therefore, it is important to take proactive protection against malware problems.

Running a daily anti-virus scan is a good first step. But users should also update their software to make sure they recognize the latest malware variations. In addition, as mentioned earlier, they should be constantly vigilant when clicking links or downloading attachments that seem unusual. It is often these components that give hackers access to a corporate network.

It is also advisable to save important files in several places. Instead of storing files on a work computer, employees can save them to a USB drive or to a cloud-based application such as G Suite. Even if hackers lock files in one place, proactive employees might still have access to them elsewhere.

How you should respond:  Once files are compromised in this way, it is recommended that you restore to a previous point (before the encryption attack) with a full system backup (hard disk image) of the affected computer. If there are no backed up files, professional help is needed to determine if it is possible to decrypt the data without giving in to the demands of the hacker.

5. Strange redirects

If a browser redirects you to anything other than its usual home page set up in Preferences or goes to strange sites when trying to use the Internet, it’s probably because of a hacker’s intrusion.

These problems are due to a redirect virus . The infections can occur on computers when bundled with downloaded software or inserted into unwanted browser extensions.

Once infected the pages that appear are are FAKE but similar to the actual pages. You can have almost identical color schemes, footer links, or fonts. That’s because hackers hope to trick people who are not attentive enough.

Another type of redirect virus is when people click on links to legitimate pages, but see ads instead of real content.

How you should respond:  Ideally, users should not try to solve the problem without completely backing up their data. Then they can use redirect detection software – some of which are free – to scan for and fix problems.

In order to avoid future complications, the technical experts of a company should always install the software for the users. It is easy for users to accept software additions that contain redirect viruses, because they follow prompts blindly and do not read anything about the installed components.

Timely response is crucial

Now that you know some of the most treacherous signs of compromised networks, you’re well equipped to act on the suggestions that come with them. A quick response could limit the negative impact of cybercriminals on businesses

Contact us today to learn about Bleuwire™  services and solutions on how we can help your business.