How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac

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  1. How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac Without
  2. How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac Pro
  3. How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Macbook Pro
  4. How To Know If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac
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Apr 05, 2019  Is someone using your computer behind your back? Thankfully, there are various ways to find out. Read on and learn these tricks you can use to see if someone is snooping on your PC or Mac.

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Every day we see news about computers being hacked and how the cybercriminals make money off people clueless about the protection of their assets.

For someone not very technical, it may sound as if hackers are so powerful, and the only way to hide is to shut down all devices and go off the grid completely.

However, the truth is that there are several simple things one can do to make sure that we are reasonably safe when browsing the internet without affecting our ability to access the information we need.

Whether or not someone can hack into the computer or phone through WiFi depends on a person’s proximity to the WiFi router. If a cybercriminal in the range of access to the WiFi router, they can connect to the local network and perform various attacks, such as Man In The Middle attack.

If the hacker is outside of the WiFi range, then the way they attack will be different.

Let’s consider various scenarios of how the computer can be hacked and ways to protect your devices.

Hacking Computer Through Local WiFi

As you probably guessed, it is much easier to hack the computer, which is in close proximity to the hacker’s device.

For instance, your neighbor can connect to your WiFi and use your internet for free. Or you may connect to the free WiFi in the cafe or hotel, but someone already hacked the network, and now everyone, including you, is a potential target.

Or maybe you are using the office WiFi, and it was also hacked.

And it doesn’t have to be a computer, such as a Mac or PC. Your smartphone, iPhone, or Android, which uses the WiFi can be hacked as well.

Let’s see what hackers can do if they are physically connected to the WiFi you are using.

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Man in the middle attack

If you have the internet at home from a cable, DSL, or fiber-optic provider, you have a router. Your computer does not directly connect to the internet; it sends and receives data by directing it through the router.

In layman terms, the process is the following:

  1. Your computer or phone finds a WiFi router.
  2. After submitting the correct password, the router sends back its MAC address. MAC address is an identifier of computer components, and in theory, it should be unique across billions of devices on the planet. The network card on your computer also has a unique MAC address.
  3. After you get the MAC address of the router, all internet activity will be going through the router. In the pic below, there is a MAC address next to each device on the local network, and the router’s address is 11:22:33:44:55:66.

When a hacker connects to the local WiFi router, it also finds the MAC address of the router. The hacker changes his computer’s MAC address to be the same as routers one (11:22:33:44:55:66 in the pic below).

Now, all devices on the local network connect to the hacker’s machine, and then the data flows to and from the router. So the hacker becomes a man in the middle (MITM).

Once this happened, the hacker can read all outgoing requests and incoming data using various tools that collect such data.

This means every time you enter a username and password on some web site or enter your credit card number, and it gets saved on the hacker’s machine. Also, every URL you are visiting also gets saved.

There are some limitations, obviously. For instance, if the website uses the HTTPS protocol (S at the end stands for Secure), all traffic is encrypted between your computer and cybercriminals will not be able to crack it (in most cases).

However, if the web site uses HTTP, all data, including the password, is in cleartext.

So, if you want to avoid your data being stolen, always check that web site is using a secure protocol (HTTPS). In the browsers, the secure protocol is usually displayed with a padlock icon next to the URL.

Never enter passwords or financial information on web sites with HTTP!

How the router can be hacked

When it comes to your home WiFi, there are three ways for someone outside to connect to the router:

  1. The router is not password protected
  2. You tell the password. For instance, you told the guest the password, or she looked it up on the router (if you didn’t change the default one)
  3. If the router is using an old authentication protocol

I am going to skip the first two and instead of focus on the last one. The authentication protocol used in with WiFi router is very important.

If your router is old, it is possible that it’s still using WEP protocol, then you should know that anyone who knows a little bit about hacking can hack the router literally in less than a minute.

So, if you have it enabled on your router, then go ahead and disable as I did.

What you should have is WPA2 with AES encryption. In the pic below, the authentication strength (protection from hacking) increases from top to bottom (WPA is less secure, and WPA2-PSK with AES is the most secure).

Some hackers employ a dictionary attack to crack WPA protocol, but it takes supercomputers to hack it. So as long as you are not a celebrity or a billionaire, nobody will spend so many resources to break into your network.

Usually, you can connect to the home router settings by going to the local IP address, such as http://192.168.0.1/.

How to tell if someone hacked your router

One of the sure routers hacked signs is the existence of an unknown device connected to the local WiFi network.

As I explained above, in order to perform a man in the middle (MITM) attack, the hacker must connect to the WiFI network first. And if he’s connected, you can see him too.

One way to find out the connected devices is through the router settings. Some routers allow us to see all connected devices and kick them out if needed.

Another way is to use a network scanner app. For instance, I found a cool app called Fing. The app is available for almost all platforms: iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.

It is free (with ads) and doesn’t even require creating an account in order to use it.

One cool feature they have is scanning for open ports.

For instance, when I scanned my MacBook Pro, I found that remote desktop and screen sharing features were enabled, and anyone could connect to my Mac remotely.

How to protect from a MITM attack

While it is possible to scan and find unknown devices on the home network, this approach will not work with public WiFi networks, such as the one in Starbucks or the hotel.

You would never know if the public network was compromised. In this case, the only way to protect your privacy is to use a VPN (a virtual private network).

When connected to VPN, your computer or phone creates a secure encrypted channel with the VPN server. After the connection is established, all requests go to the VPN server. The server makes all requests on your behalf and returns the results back to you.

From outside, it looks like the computer is sending some garbage to and back to the same computer. Even if the hacker collecting the information, he won’t be able to tell whether you’re connecting to Google.com or MacMyths.com.

When choosing a VPN software, follow these best practices:

  • Do not use a free VPN. They have significant limitations, and you know that good things are never free.
  • Test for speed. Some VPS are significantly faster than others.
  • Check the provider’s reputation. Since all requests now go through the VPN, technically, the VPN server becomes a man in the middle. So choose only reputable providers.

Personally, I am using NordVPN: it’s the fastest on the market and very inexpensive. It is available for multiple platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.

If you use my NordVPN affiliate link you get a pretty steep discount for three-year plan for up to 6 devices.

Hacking Computer Remotely

We discussed ways to hack the computers and phones through local WiFi, but I know the question that most people ask is whether hackers can connect to the home network when they are on the other end of the world (or more than a hundred yards or meters away).

Fortunately, the answer is no, someone cannot get into your home network, even if they know the password if they are outside of the range (more than 300 feet).

Also, in most cases, hackers cannot get into your computer is off (link).

However, there are other ways to get into your system remotely. Do you remember a story of Bezos’s personal data being leaked?

In his case, he received a message on WhatsApp with malware attachment. When the malware was installed on his phone, it started sending the personal data to the server abroad.

Similarly, we are all at the risk of having malware installed on our computers and smartphones. Some malware open access to the device, so the hackers can access it remotely.

Or, the malware could be a keylogger, and in this case, even having HTTPS or a VPN will not help. A keylogger will record the keys pressed on the keyboard, and if it happens to be a credit card number, then the hacker will have it.

So, how to protect the devices from malware? You need to install an antivirus program.

There is a common myth that Macs cannot have viruses, but this is not true. I was able to inject my Mac with more than 100 malware samples when testing various antimalware solution.

You can check the results of my test and recommended antiviruses in my post: Best Malware Detection App for Mac.

Every time my friends and family ask me for a recommended antivirus, I go with Norton 360. It comes with the biggest bang for the buck and provides antimalware and other security features on all platforms. And it also has its own VPN!

Conclusion

We reviewed multiple ways how someone can hack into your phone or computer through WiFi. I also listed ways to prevent this from happening, which I wanted to reiterate.

If you worry about online security, consider investing in the following tools:

  • VPN software
  • Antivirus program

Be very cautious when connecting to public WiFi. I’d say if you don’t have VPN installed on a laptop or smartphone don’t use public WiFi, or at least avoid making purchases with a credit card or entering passwords.

If you are interested in the topic of security, there is a great course available on Udemy about ethical hacking. The instructor teaches how to hack computers ethically and most importantly what can you do to prevent from being targeted:

Learn Network Hacking From Scratch (WiFi & Wired)

Also, check my other post:

Photo credit: ©canva.com/cyano66

Last Updated on

Updated 11:32 AM EST Feb 19, 2020

Smart hackers don’t get caught. They break into your device, steal everything they can, and finish without a trace. Sometimes they leave a trail of destruction in their wake – malware, weird ads, confused relatives, and even a drained bank account or stolen identity.

It’s pretty easy for hackers to do their job. Most people are ambivalent, but you don’t have to be. Click here for 5 security mistakes you’re probably making right now.

Computers, phones, routers, and down to the innocent webcam are vulnerable to cyber-criminals. So what if they’ve already broken in, yet you don’t even know they’re there? Here are clear-cut signs that you've been hacked.

1. Your gadget suddenly slows down

One of the side-effects of malicious software is a slow gadget. Software gets sluggish, or constantly freezes, or even crashes. If you start noticing some of these symptoms, your gadget may very well be infected with viruses, trojans or worms.

Malicious software usually runs in the background, secretly eating up your gadget's resources while it's active.

Here are tools you can use to pinpoint those nasty applications. If an application that you don't recognize is hogging your computer resources, it's likely a virus.

PC: Use Task Manager

There are a few ways to see what processes your computer is running. The easiest is to bring up Windows' built-in Task Manager. Just use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + ESC and go to the Processes tab.

Put simply, the Task Manager lists all of your computer’s current tasks and how much processing power they’re using, measured in Central Processing Units (CPUs). Open up Task Manager and check the CPU and memory columns for each process.

You might find one process is using 100% — or close to it — of your CPU. Open up the program associated with the process and see what it's doing. Restart the task and monitor it, but this program might be the culprit.

Click here to learn powerful Windows Task Manager secrets for diagnosing and repairing slow computers.

Mac: Use Activity Monitor

The Mac equivalent to Task Manager is its built-in Activity Monitor. The quickest way to access the Activity Monitor is by using Spotlight Search.

Click the magnifying glass on the right side of the menu bar at the top of your screen, or press Command + Spacebar to open a Spotlight window and start typing the first few letters to auto-complete 'Activity Monitor.' Just press Enter to access the tool.

Similar to Window's Task Manager, Mac's Activity Monitor displays a list of all your open processes with tabs for CPU, Threads, Idle Wake Ups and Network usage.

Learn these three troubleshooting Mac shortcuts the pros use.

If this happens when you are on an iPhone, try a soft reset by holding the power and the home button until it reboots with the Apple logo. This step can clear out frozen apps that can be hogging your memory.

2. You’re using way more data than usual

Every Internet provider has tools that can keep track of your monthly bandwidth consumption. Look at Data Usage Meter or Data Monitor, depending on your provider. Compare the amount of data used from the prior months, and if you notice sudden spikes in your data activity even though you haven't changed your patterns, then chances are you are infected.

For example, adware infected gadgets usually perform unsolicited clicks in the background to generate profit for cybercriminals. These stealthy tactics use up bandwidth and the unauthorized data they consume should be fairly easy to spot.

Do you want to save on your data consumption? Here are 5 steps to cut your data usage in half.

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More Komando: How to find everything Microsoft knows about you

3. Videos suddenly buffer and web pages take forever to load

When a streaming video suddenly freezes, and your device appears to be “thinking,” this is called buffering. This annoyance often happens, especially if you play a lot of videos or your Wi-Fi connection is weak. If it’s happening a lot, or videos fail to play at all, you’re wise to suspect neighbors are piggy-backing on your connection. Click here for steps on how to check for Wi-Fi thieves.

Then again, malware can also slow down your Internet traffic by DNS hijacking. In short, hackers can redirect your Internet traffic to unsafe servers instead of the secure servers. This will not only slow down your browsing experience, it's also a serious security risk. For example, if your router's DNS settings have been hijacked, each time you visit your online bank's website, you'll be redirected to a phishing website instead.

To check your router's DNS settings, you can use an online tool like F-Secure Router. For more security, consider changing your DNS server to one with advanced hijacking protection like CloudFlare or Quad9.

Do you want to make your router hack-proof? Click here for more tips.

More: 6 ways to speed up slow Wi-Fi

4. Programs and apps start crashing

Now, here is a clear sign that your system has been infected. If your antivirus software and task manager are either crashing or disabled, a nasty virus has likely taken hold of your critical system files.

You may not be able to click on once-reliable apps. In the worst case scenario, ransomware may prevent you from opening favorite files.

You can try and fix the problem by booting your gadget in Safe Mode. With Safe Mode, your computer will be running with just the bare essentials. This way, you can safely delete and uninstall any programs and files that you can't during normal operation.

Windows:

On Windows, search for System Configuration then open it >> select Boot tab then tick off Safe Boot >>check Minimal (this is enough for most cases) >> click on OK to confirm >> Restart your computer.

Click here for detailed steps on how to boot into Windows Safe Mode.

macOS:

On a Mac, press and hold down the Shift key while restarting your computer. Keep holding the key through the Apple logo and release when you see the login screen.

Android:

Android also has its own version of Safe Mode but there are different ways to activate it, depending on your phone model. Click here to learn how.

iOS:

Stock iOS doesn't have a Safe Mode but you can try a soft reset to fix most issues. To do this, press and hold both your iPhone's Home button and the Sleep button at the same time, wait for it to restart then let go of the buttons when the Apple logo is displayed.

The iPhone X doesn't have a Home button so the process is a bit different. Press and quickly release the volume up button, press and quickly release the volume down button then press and hold the side button and release when the Apple logo appears.

5. You start seeing pop-up ads

Malware can also add bookmarks that you don't want, website shortcuts to your home screen that you didn't create, and spammy messages that entice you to click through. Apart from slowing down your gadget and eating away at your data, these intrusive notifications can also install more malware on your system.

Criminals can also use DNS hijacking to modify the ads that you see while browsing. Instead of the regular ads that you should be getting, they can be replaced with inappropriate or malicious ones.

On Windows, clean out adware with SpyBot Search & Destroy. On a Mac, use Malwarebytes for Mac.

6. Your gadget suddenly restarts

Automatic restarts are part of normal computer life. Software updates and new application installs can prompt you to reboot your computer. Your system will warn you when these happen, and you can delay or postpone them.

Yet sudden restarts are a different story. With Windows 10, there's a free malware detection and extraction program called Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.

I recommend a Full Scan with this tool to verify that your computer is updated with the latest malware definitions.

7. Unexplained online activity

How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac Without

Hackers covet your usernames and passwords. These details, coupled with social engineering tricks, can gain access to your banking accounts, your social media profiles, and your online services.

Keep an eye on your email's 'sent' folder and on your social network posts. If you notice emails and posts that you don't remember sending or posting, it's likely that you have been hacked.

Constantly check your accounts for unauthorized activity including movies on your Netflix profile that you don't remember streaming, mystery purchases that you haven't made, songs on your Spotify list that you didn't listen to, credit card charges that came from nowhere.

How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac Pro

What other tech tips will help you?

How To Tell If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Macbook Pro

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How To Know If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer Mac

Updated 11:32 AM EST Feb 19, 2020
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