July 2017 Security: What to do when you've been hacked

Face it: Hackers Gonna Hack. Compromised accounts happen. Quick identification and response can reduce the harm done to your accounts and your personal information. Educause has come up with some remediation steps for you to follow.

First, how can you tell if you’ve been hacked or scammed in the first place?

Clever hackers don’t make it obvious (they won’t change your password or lock you out of an account for example). Look for these signs:

–Your friends tell you something is strange. They’ve received a phishy e-mail from your account that you don’t remember sending, or you receive a reply to a messages you didn’t compose.

–You start getting distressing calls or seeing odd things on your phone. Collection companies are calling about nonpayment. Battery and data usage are higher than normal. Charges for premium SMS numbers show up on your bill.

–Your browser acts up. Unwanted browser toolbars, homepages, or plugins appear unexpectedly. Web searches take you someplace other than Google, Bing or Yahoo. You’re seeing lots of pop-ups or web page redirects. Your online passwords aren’t working.

–Antivirus messages report that the virus hasn’t been cleaned or quarantined. You see fake antivirus messages from software you don’t remember installing. You are directed to call a phone number (this is always a scam)! Programs are running or requesting elevated privileges that you did not install. Programs randomly crash.

–You notice odd charges to your financial accounts. You receive a message about insufficient funds due to unauthorized charges.

–Or you may receive a notification from a company that has recently suffered a cybersecurity breach that your account (along with many others) was compromised.

What should you do? Shake it off. Following are the steps you can take to recover.

–Change your affected passwords from a known clean computer (any public machine at Williams would be fine). Not sure which passwords are affected? It’s best to change them all.

–Update your mobile software and apps. Make sure you keep them up-to-date.

–Update your antivirus software (Sophos is on Williams computers and can be installed on home machines). Then run a complete scan. Follow the instructions provided to quarantine or delete any infected files.

–Update your browser software and plugins. Check frequently for new updates and delete any unnecessary or obsolete plugins.

–Is your computer still acting wonky? It might be best to start from scratch with a complete reformat of your machine so you can ensure that all affected software is fixed.

–Self-report to credit agencies. If you believe your personally identifiable information has been affected, you don’t want to deal with identity theft on top of being hacked.

–Be prepared with backups. Don’t let the next compromise ruin your day. Backup your files frequently. Consider storing at least two separate backups: one on an external drive and one in cloud storage.

–Stay ahead of the hackers. Check the https://haveibeenpwned.com/ website to see if any of your accounts were exposed in a known attack. Thank you for your assistance in keeping your accounts and the Williams community secure.