The Aftermath of Being Hacked
You open your email in the morning to find an appealing offer for your favorite store you frequent often. Totally normal. You get offers for weekly deals and exclusive offers all the time, why would this time by any different? This is where you get caught. In the email is the attachment you’ll need to open to access the coupon or link to accept the offer. How could you possibly resist? So, you click on it, and now you notice that it’s not really what you expected, and everything looks a little…off. Soon after this, you notice your computer running slower, you’re experiencing more and more pop-ups online, and other odd occurrences here and there. Before you get too hard on yourself, understand that you had the most innocent intentions and accidents happen to everyone. The important thing to do now is to take the necessary steps towards taking your computer back from the hands of an unpleasant virus.
Acting fast is key to saving your computer from attacking others or losing your own files. Waiting too long can result in damage that cannot be reverted in order to return your computer back to its normal state.
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Disconnect Your Computer from the network
The first thing you need to do before you affect anything else in the network, is to disconnect. While you’re still connected to the network, you are able to spread the virus to other computers.
To do this, pull the network cable out of your PC and turn off the Wi-Fi connection. If it’s your laptop and not your desk PC, turn off the Wi-Fi connection right away in the setting option. Oftentimes, people may think their software will handle all of this for them since that’s what it’s there for but, malware now installed on your device is cunning and can lie to you, telling you that it’s all turned off, when it’s really not. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry and just manually turn the Wi-Fi off and disconnect the cable yourself.
Remove the Hard Drive
Once you’ve disconnected from the network and Wi-Fi, then next thing you’ll need to do is shut down the computer and safely remove the hard drive. Once the PC is completely shut down and you’ve removed the hard drive, insert the drive into another computer and connect. Be sure that the second computer you connect the hard drive to is up to date on anti-virus software.
While this whole situation is frustrating and difficult, try to make things a little easier on yourself by and use a USB drive caddy to put the hard drive into to make it easier to connect to a secondary PC. If you can’t get your hands on a USB drive caddy and need to manually insert the drive, just make sure that the drive is set as a secondary and not the master drive, or you risk infecting the new PC with the same virus as the first one. If neither of these options work for you, you can take your PC or laptop into the nearest, trusted local repair shop.
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Back up the hard drive
The hard drive is where all of your personal data and information lives. Scan the drive just to make sure there is no virus on the file system and that your information is safe. Once you’ve completed the scan, you can get all of your data off of the drive and relocate all of your files, photos, documents, and media onto another new, clean hard drive.
Once the new hard drive is loaded with all of your information, move it back the original PC that had been infected by the virus. When you reconnect the hard drive to the PC, be sure to set it back to the master setting and not the secondary setting.
Once the hard drive is back in its master setting, clean and ready to go, the next step is to reinstall all of the security software on the device. Before reinstalling, make sure that all of the security software including the anti-virus is up to date before loading and installing any other software and applications, just in case any of those applications contain threats such as malware.
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Backup, backup, Backup
Once you have everything back to a fully functional and secure working order, perform a complete backup so that in the event this happens again, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time clearing out and reinstalling your entire system.
Reset those passwords
Last but not least, don’t forget to change those passwords! Even though this may not be how the virus came onto your computer, it’s always a safe bet to change things up. During the period of time while your computer may have been exposed to a virus of some kind, your personal accounts could have been in danger.
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Since passwords are often the thing hackers are really after to gain access to your personal accounts, and private information, it’s a really good idea to go through them all and change them. Make them completely different from the previous ones and even a bit more complicated by adding in numbers, capital letters, and special characters. This includes all of your passwords to social media accounts, bank logins, email accounts, etc.
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