8 Signs that Your Online Security Has Been Compromised

| September 15, 2016 | Regulations & Security

If your business has email access, a website, or for that matter a computer, you face a security risk. Most businesses are aware of this risk and are cumulatively spending many billions of dollars on cyber security. You most likely already use tough-to-guess passwords and regularly scan your computers for viruses. But that may not be enough; in fact there is no checklist of actions that guarantees online security. And there’s always a chance that your security has already been breached. With that in mind, it is important to know the signs that indicate your cyber-security has been compromised.

1) Your Computer Is Working Furiously, But Is Unresponsive

Modern operating systems enable computers to run processes in the background. However, if you find that your computer seems to be “haunted,” and that it seems to be doing a lot of its own activities, there’s a chance that your system is acting as a node in some form of a peer-to-peer malware scheme or the like. Someone could be performing online actions that appear as though they are emanating from your computer.

2) Fake Errors and Other Messages

If a computer popped up a message like, “your system is slow, click OK to make it faster,” several business owners would be tempted to click OK. And sometimes these popup messages can be far more creative to entice you to click. If you fall for the scam, you may find malware installed on your system. And this could lead to a series of unfortunate outcomes that could eventually give someone remote access to your system resources, including the webcam.

3) The Sudden Appearance of Mysterious Toolbars or Software The most powerful tool in the hands of a cyber-criminal comes in the form of software they install on your computer. This gives them unfettered access to all of your online activities and resources. So if you find a new toolbar installed or new software running on your system, don’t ignore it.

4) Popups and Popunders Adware and malignant traffic networks attack your web browser, and cause it to load web pages, ads, popups, and popunders. Of course, a bonafide website might also throw up a new browser tab. So you will need to use your judgment to figure out if you are a victim of malware, or are merely a user of a website that has scant respect for user experience.

5) Unauthorized Online Purchases

You didn’t make a purchase, but still received an email or text message saying you did. Get to the bottom of it immediately. Find out who made that purchase, using what website, from what account, and using what payment method; then quickly change the relevant passwords, cancel the credit cards, and notify everyone involved. Otherwise the perpetrator of the identity theft will repeat this until your account runs dry.

6) Someone Is Sending Email, Posing as You

Despite being a “self-proclaimed” security expert, I have been a victim of this breach. Someone had hacked into one of my blogs and was sending out phishing emails from my server that directed receivers to a fraudulent webpage (on my server) with the intention of stealing their bank account details. When someone sends out emails from your account or server, they are certainly up to no good. So if any of your associates tells you that they received strange email from you or from anyone else in your organization, it should immediately alert you to take corrective action.

7) You Are Unable to Login to Your Accounts

It might simply be a case of you momentarily forgetting your passwords but you still should not take it lightly if you are unable to login to your account. There’s always a risk that someone has gained access to your account and changed your password. Write to support. Update your password.

8) Your Money Is Stolen

I know that sounds incredibly obvious. If a significant sum of money were stolen from your account, you wouldn’t just notice it, you would panic. The problem occurs when the thief uses the “salami slicing” approach, and steals money in small amounts. I have read reports of people being victims for prolonged periods, and losing lots of money, but only a little at a time. So make sure that you can account for all of your withdrawals.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This article is not written with the intention to scare you; instead it’s to offer information. You can use to minimize the likelihood of security breaches. Here are a few steps you should take:

Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana wears many hats: author, angel investor, mentor, TEDx speaker, steering committee of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, Director of Founder Institute, Venture Partner with the seed initiative of a top Venture Capital firm, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, among others. Before all this, he was entrepreneurial twice in the field of education and web publishing. As a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he taught e-commerce back in 1993, when the term "e-commerce" had not yet been coined. An undergrad in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the University of Texas, Ajeet is presently an active name in the startup ecosystem. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.

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