Home Hacking How to know if you’ve been hacked and what to do next

How to know if you’ve been hacked and what to do next

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Every eight minutes there is a report of a cyber attack in Australia. In reality, that’s only what has been reported and many hacks go undetected.

From April to June in 2022, Norton research for Australia detected 32,660,129 cybercrime blocks. That’s 358,902 blocks a day.

Just recently a massive cyberhack on telecommunications company Optus compromised potentially 9.8 million customers, with information such as passport and license numbers, emails, home addresses, date of births and telephone numbers stolen.

So what happens if you have been hacked? It is vital to know what to expect and how to act to make sure you keep your risk levels as low as possible.

Scammer hackers laptop cybercrime online criminals
Scammer hackers laptop cybercrime online criminals (iStock/Getty)

How to know if you have been hacked

If it’s a major cyber attack it will be all over the news, like Optus recently was. An attack of that scale will usually mean the company will contact you and will have specific information available on its website.

But not every hack will be as obvious. You might notice an unexpected purchase on your credit card. Scammers can skim your credit card at a restaurant, some dodgy online shop you used recently, or even at an ATM.

Other hacks could involve your social media account or email address. Friends might reach out to ask why you sent them a strange message or forwarded them spam.

Some other red flags you have been a hacked are;

  • Problems signing into your accounts
  • Contact by debt collectors
  • Unusual activity on your phone
  • A notification that your account might be compromised

What to do after you have been hacked?

The first thing is to take it seriously.

Melissa Dempsey, Norton Senior Director of Product Marketing, told 9news.com.au that one in five Australians have experienced identity theft, but 59 per cent of Australians have no idea what to do if their identity was stolen.

“If you discover that you are a victim of identity theft or suspect that you may be, you need to act quickly, in the hope of minimising its impact and any financial loss, Dempsey said.

What you do will depend on the hack.

Credit card fraud will mean contacting your bank (if they haven’t already contacted you). You will need to cancel that card and get a new one. And make sure to update any subscriptions or services where that credit card is saved (like a phone or power bill).

If your email is hacked you will need to regain control by contacting the email service. That’s not easy if you don’t have access to your account, so ideally have two email accounts that are linked together.

And if your email has been stolen, hackers can reset passwords for your social media accounts. All they need to do is press forgot password on that site.

Identity theft can be a total nightmare. Your first step is to get in touch with IDCARE – a not-for-profit charity that helps victims of cybercrimes.

After becoming the victim of a cybercrime there are also some important steps you can take:

  • Update and run anti-virus software on all your devices
  • Reset all of your passwords and PINs
  • Check where you have kept personal information (such as emails) and delete them
  • Contact your bank or financial institution to let them know what happened

Scam text from ‘mum’ leads to account at Aussie bank

How to prevent getting hacked?

Once again, take it seriously. Do not just change the one password of a hacked site.

Go through all of the steps outlined, and use government resources like these step-by-step guides on setting up two-factor authentication and checking account security.

Here’s some general advice on staying out of the crosshairs of hackers:

  • ‍Do not open suspect emails or text messages, just delete them immediately
  • Make a variety of passwords and make them hard to guess. There are several password manager apps you can use to help keep track
  • Get antivirus software and a good firewall. Use a VPN if you are connecting to public Wi-Fi
  • Do not post public information on social media. Those Facebook quizzes that ask your first pet’s name, street name and age are probably collecting data to try and guess your passwords
  • Be vigilant. If you don’t know someone and they are asking for information, be very suspicious

Reported losses from cyber crime in the 2020-21 financial year was $33 billion, you do not want your hard-earned cash to be part of next year’s statistic.

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