Has Your PC Been Hacked? Unlikely…

Most weeks we get calls from people who think their computer has been hacked and want us to help. The person who is spying on them is doing something bad. It might be true. Yes. Was it? There is no way!

“It is being controlled and I can’t use anything I’ve bought. When I change my password, it seems like it asks me a lot of times. This is not a good thing. Also, when I do, it is caught and blocked. Why? This is my computer at home.”
These kinds of emails and calls come in every week. A lot of people think that their computer is being controlled without their permission, usually by the government or an unknown hacker. As someone types a boring message, some people think someone is watching them. They also think they are being recorded by someone else online.
Bottom line: They think someone is spying on them – and they think it could be even worse. I don’t know what will happen next.
There is very little chance that someone is spying on you, let alone controlling your computer from afar and making it work erratically. Much more often, software, accounts, or other things don’t work the way they should for more simple reasons. The same basic safety rules you should already be following still hold true. If you find out that you are being spied on, then getting help for diagnosis and repair is very important.
Most of the time, it’s a hoax.
When your computer is in your hands, no one else is in charge of it but you. Nobody is spying on you and no one is messing with your files or emails, so you don’t have to worry. 90% of the time, there’s nothing going on. There are some people who don’t like that. They’re sure there’s something bad going on, but they don’t know why. Somebody wants them. It looks like someone is following or spying on them, or is out to get them into trouble.
What we see instead is a lot of confusion. Not everything went as planned. An account password looked like it had been changed, but we don’t know for sure. Files or emails were lost. A mouse pointer moved on its own. People were shocked when they saw how quickly the computer was typing. All of those scenarios have real-life explanations that are more likely than an attack from a bad person.
GIFS: The Computer Forgot My Password GIF – GIFs about The Computer Forgot My Password
Being sure is very difficult.
People sometimes ask us to check everything to make sure there is nothing going on at all. As it turns out, it’s almost impossible to do so. This kind of investigation takes a lot of time and money. Most people don’t have the time or money for this kind of work.
Most of the time, a closer look shows that:
You used a program in a bad way, or you don’t even know how to use it.
You put in the wrong password when you tried to sign in.
You deleted a file by accident or looked for one in the wrong place.
People are having trouble with their mouse because it’s dirty or has a problem.
and so on…
Because true hackers, malware, and remote-control tools are very good at hiding, there is a good chance you wouldn’t even know you were being spied on. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t another way to look at things. Most of the time, it does.
How to be safe
There are some things that everyone knows but not everyone does.
Use the most up-to-date security software.
In order to keep your computer and software up to date, make sure that they are as new as possible.
When you can, use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Use strong passwords everywhere and strong passwords when possible.
Make sure you don’t click on shady links and don’t open attachments in emails you don’t expect.
Back up your files often.
With a password, make sure your computer is safe. Don’t let your nephew use your computer!
If everyone else did this, we’d soon be out of business!
In that case, what would happen?
If your concerns are real and you need help, make sure you find someone who is trustworthy and, if possible, nearby. Especially if you’re under a lot of stress or feel overwhelmed, trust is more important than technical skills.
Take it easy. Don’t make up your mind. Do look for more normal reasons for any behavior that makes you think someone is in charge of your computer. You should run a full anti-virus scan on your computer. Change passwords if you think they’ve been hacked.
If you need help with any of this, we’re here to help.