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Hacked or compromised? Here is what you can do!

Certain things can cause you to have that ‘sinking feeling’ at work. We’re talking about one of them – having your data compromised. See the full article to see what a hack looks like and how to fix it.

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There are certain things that can cause you to have that ‘sinking feeling’ at work. We are talking about one of them – having your data compromised and, with some help from your IT Department or your Managed Service Provider, what to do if it happens to you.

Seeing the news or looking at social media brings constant reminders of the heightened level of cyber-attacks. In just the last few years over 76% of businesses were victims of phishing attacks and over 92% of malware infections were delivered via email.

This data alone should tell us something about staff training and its importance in avoiding being ‘phished’ and protecting your valuable company data.

Though it seems cybercriminals would want to go after the big payoffs, small to midsize businesses are not immune to cybercriminals. We find ourselves in a situation of not if, but when, your company could be hacked.

In this article, we will explore what being hacked can look like and how to fix it.


Tell-Tale Signs You’ve Been Hacked

There are many types of hacking. A very prominent one is ransomware attacks, which encrypts files then asks for payment to decrypt them. During this type of attack, a ‘bot’ takes over a computer and turns it into a slave to do its bidding.

If your computer becomes infected with any type of malware, you often experience tell-tale signs:

  1. An on-screen message pops up – This is usually associated with ransomware infections. It will let you know you’re infected and will insist on payment in exchange for a decryption code.
  2. Ad pop-up – This is not a threat like a ransomware on-screen note. Instead, random ad-type messages pop up whenever you open a browser.
  3. Your computer feels hot and runs slowly – Malware often requires a lot of computer resources to run. This makes your computer run slowly and often overheat.
  4. Freezing and crashing a lot – Assuming your computer is not extremely old and that you keep it patched with updates, it should not randomly crash and applications should not freeze constantly. If they do, there is a good chance you have a malware infection.

Even if you don’t have any tell-tale signs, you could still be infected. Malware variants are continuously changing and are often specifically designed to work in a stealth-like manner.

This works well for the cybercriminal as it means the malware is less likely to be found and eradicated.


Ways to Deal with a Hack

If your system is compromised, you need to contain the infection and remediate the incident ASAP.

Hacks can be caused by many different routes, but once the hack has occurred there are several things you can do to contain the problem.

Your IT and MSP Functions

As soon as you suspect that your system is compromised, call for help. Immediately! The sooner the infection is contained, or the hack handled, the better.

Either your IT Helpdesk or your Managed IT Services company will check your machine. It’s way better if they find nothing than if you wait and take the chance of allowing the problem to spread through the network.

Disconnect and Isolate

Many infections begin in one location and then move across a network to cause widespread infection.

Ransomware, for example, can infect across a network and out into Cloud repositories, encrypting files as it goes.

Make sure your machine is disconnected from the rest of your network. This means unplugging the network cable or switching off your Wi-Fi connection.

Ensure you do this manually as some malware will trick you into thinking the computer is disconnected when it is not.


Removing a malware infection can be tricky and something your IT Department or MSP can do.

Full decontamination is a process. One thorough way to eradicate an infection is to first remove the infected hard drive.

Next, connect it as a non-bootable drive to another uninfected computer. Then, run an up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware package from the host PC, to scan and quarantine any malware files on the drive.

Now, remove any important files and documents from the hard drive before finally wiping the drive using a secure disk erase utility.

Change Passwords

Malware infections can be used to log keyboard strokes, collecting passwords as they are used.

Change any account passwords that may have been accessed via the infected computer.

Here is some additional guidance for bettering your passwords: Password or Passphrase?

Alert Others

Make sure your IT Department (or Managed IT Services company) knows about the breach so they can check for any further breaches.

It’s also important to alert any associates who might be receiving unexpected emails from you (in case of phishing) or colleagues who might be affected by the situation.

Your company may also have to make a breach notification to relevant authorities as is required by some data protection regulations.

In this case, more is better and swift communication is key.


Reduce the Risk of it Happening Again

Using a professional Managed IT Services Provider reduces the chances of your organization being hacked in the first place.

Even in well-run organizations, IT departments tend to be overwhelmed with day-to-day requests.

Having a specialized IT MSP work with your IT Department allows your internal team to focus on their strengths and duties while the MSP ensures the safety of your network and staff.

Even if you do end up being hacked, a Managed IT Services Provider has the resources to quickly contain and recover from an infection or breach.

For example, if the hack involved ransomware infection, files and documents would likely be encrypted and lost. A Managed Services Provider would be able to swiftly deal with the infection, remove it, and recover your data from the cloud.

Your MSP will put a secure backup system in place before an infection happens. In which case, you will be able to fully recover files to replace those encrypted.


Managed Cybersecurity Services Have Your Back

Preventing a cyber-incident means you don’t have to deal with the aftermath. Remediation of a data breach and a hacked network takes time.

IBM found that the average time to spot a breach is 197 days and then, to contain it, a further 69 days. In that time, you have lost money, reputation, and suffered other intangible damages.

With cybercrime at an all-time high, we must use proven methods to fight back.

Managed IT Services gives you the tools to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, but it goes further.

Having a completely hardened, 100% secure system is not possible as these criminals continuously change their tactics. Having an experienced IT team like Sequentur monitoring and protecting your network 24/7 will give you peace of mind.

As your MSP, we can save you an average of 25% on IT costs while providing an entire team of talented engineers to support your business goals and keep you safe.

Get started. Call us today.

Tampa Bay Office: (813) 489-4122, Washington D.C. Office: (703) 260-1119

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