Do you think that your Mac was hacked? Do you feel that someone or something is spying on you when you are watching YouTube, or when your Mac is left unattended at home?
Mar 10, 2018 I have been the victim of a phishing attack. All my outlook contacts have received an email that looks to have come from my 365 email account. If they respond they receive a tailored reply. Some may have clicked on the link in the email. I've changed my passwords, but what else should I do? How should I go about informing my 1,200+ contacts? Apr 11, 2017 On April 6, 2017 I determined that my Amazon seller account (email address of account) had been hacked. Items have been listed that I do not sell, sales have taken place for products that I do not offer for sale, and money has been transferred to a bank account that is not my own. I have notified Seller Support and taken action to secure my. My account was compromised - What do I do? Losing an account can be scary. Don't worry — we're here to help! Follow the steps below, then be sure to read how to protect yourself in the future. Recovering your account. Let's look at some steps to take for getting your account back on track. Remove Off-site Downloads or Browser Extensions. Here Are Signs You Might Have Been Hacked. Hackers don't typically tell their victims that they've been hacked. Most of the time, when hackers gain entry to computers to do their dirty work, they don't want anyone to know. That way, they can come back another time to see what else they can do or find.
There are many ways how a human or a program can get on your computer and do harm to you and your privacy:
- It could be a spyware, a malicious hacker, or someone you know, such as a parent, a spouse, a friend.
- They can access your photos, videos, and emails
- They can take embarrassing pictures of you using a webcam
- They can listen and record your conversations
- They can monitor your browsing history
- They can use your computer to mine Bitcoins
- They can encrypt everything on your disk and then ask for a ransom
Computers have never been safe, and now when we rely so much on them, it is extremely important to protect ourselves from malicious actors.
This topic is too broad to fit into one blog post, so I am writing mini-series, which will help you to minimize the impact and secure your Mac.
Signs That Your Mac Was hacked
If you are reading this post, chances are you noticed something unusual is happening on your Mac. Sometimes you have a hunch, but you can’t explain it. However, most of those signs can be explained by reasons other than malware or hackers. So, let’s review the major signs.
Mac suddenly became slow for no apparent reasons
I’ve been developing commercial software for more than twenty years. There were many times when I received a call from the customer complaining that their computers, servers, programs are slow.
Every time I am getting a call, the first thing I ask if they did something before they noticed the problem. Do you know how many times they admitted that they changed something? You guessed it, zero. How many times did customers cause the problem? Almost always.
Following are some of the reasons why Mac can be slow:
- There is a virus or other malware
- Not enough disk space on Mac
- New OS was installed
- Hardware failure
Mac is using more Internet than usual
This one is harder to detect now than before. We used to have limits on how much Internet bandwidth we could use. Today, when many people have unlimited data with cable, you may not even know that something is happening.
However, if you are on a limited plan, and you see a significant increase in data consumption (more than 25% more), it’s time to investigate.
The reasons could be the following:
- Your Mac is being used as a bot by hackers
- There is a virus or other malware
- Your little one grew up and now watching YouTube all day on your computer
- New OS was installed
- Youtube and other web sites are taking forever to load
Similar to the previous sign, problems with the Internet could be a sign pointing to a virus or adware affecting the browser. Or it could be a new browser update. Or maybe the system became unstable.
Programs crashing more often
Did you notice that apps getting stuck and eventually crashing? Very often, it’s a sign of malware. Additional reasons for frequent app crashes are the following:
- Lack of memory (RAM)
- Lack of disk space
- Temporary system instability
- Hardware failure
- Unusual pop-ups in the browser
This is something we all have seen. You download an app from the Internet and seems like it was a legit software. But little did you know a good app was bundled with bloatware.
Usually, the result is that your default search engine gets changed from Google to Yahoo, the home page changes, and there are additional icons in the browser toolbar. But there could be other issues such as adware.
Adware is trying to redirect you to other sites, not related to what are you searching for. Their goal is direct traffic to certain sites. More traffic, more money they get. So, they litter your screen with pop-up, hoping that you can click and open the site you don’t want.
New files appear or old files disappear
Malware often creates new files with cryptic names. For instance, ransomware encrypts the files on your disk and renames them. However, there could be more innocent explanations.
For instance, if you can’t find a file, it does not necessarily mean that it was deleted by malware or someone who logged in on your computer remotely. Maybe, you just can’t remember that you deleted the file or the folder. In this case, first, check Trash on Mac.
If you still can’t find what you need, check my post about finding any files. I guarantee, if the file is still on your Mac after reading my post, you will be able to locate it.
How To Tell If Mac Was Hacked
First, scan your Mac with an antimalware solution. Next, turn off remote desktop and screen sharing features to make sure that nobody can connect to your Mac remotely. Verify that there are no keyloggers. Finally, eliminate reasons unrelated to hacking: reboot Mac, perform NVRAM/PRAM reset, check if there is enough space on the startup disk. If possible, visit the Apple Genius Bar for advice.
Now, let’s go over all the above in detail.
Scan Mac for viruses
I recently called Apple Support and complained about the slowness of my MacBook Pro. I could’ve solved the problem myself, but I just wanted how much would it cost for Apple to perform diagnostics on a 5-year old MacBook.
Since I don’t have AppleCare for my Mac, I thought that they would charge me something. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t charged for anything.
So, when I called, the first thing the Apple advisor made me do is to install the Malwarebytes app.
While Malwarebytes is a solid recommendation for scanning, it is not the best. In fact, I stopped recommending it to any Mac user after the test I performed myself recently.
I tested a dozen of antimalware product and only one detected 100% of 117 malware samples I intentionally downloaded on my MacBook. So, if you need a recommendation on a good antivirus check it here.
Tighten up access to your Mac
Programs are not the only threat out there. People sometimes can be even more harmful. There are several ways for someone to spy after you.
One is via remote desktop. Maybe you had experience connecting to servers or other Windows machines at work by remote desktop connection. Macs, even MacBooks, also allow such connections.
Also, it is possible to share the screen of your laptop. While it’s a useful feature, if you mean it, it’s not so good if someone’s using it when you are not aware.
And finally, since macOS has UNIX roots, as any UNIX like the operating system, it can be controlled via SSH protocol. Anyone with access can do pretty much anything on your Mac, and you wouldn’t even know.
If all of the above sounds complicated, don’t worry. I wrote a very detailed post on a topic of remote access to your Mac (https://macmyths.com/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-remotely-accessing-your-mac/). All you need is to go over the post and follow the simple steps outlined there.
For a long time, I thought that all keyloggers could do to record keyboard strokes. Imagine my shock when I started working on my post about keyloggers.
Did you know that a new generation of keyloggers can do screenshots every 5 seconds, or record your messages and social media chats? And they can upload the collected information to the cloud.
And the worst part they are freely available for anyone to purchase!
To find out how one can identify a keylogger on Mac I installed 5 most popular apps on my laptop. They completely trashed my system, but luckily I had backups, so I was able to recover my MacBook.
Things to try if no virus found
While you are maybe suspecting something bad happening on your computer, it very well may be a normal condition.
Things to try before starting panicking:
Sometimes glitches in software can make the current state of your system unstable. A reboot is still a remedy for many problems. You can either restart or shutdown and start again. The effect will be the same.
Macs historically have a little memory cell where they store some information needed for many Mac peripherals to work. Surprisingly, this area gets corrupt pretty often. Fortunately, there is a very simple fix – reset NVRAM/PRAM and SMC.
Apple has very good instructions on how to perform these tasks.
What they don’t tell is that you have to reset at 2-3 times in a row for a fix to work. I found out this in the school of hard knocks so that you don’t need to.
Clear some space on disk
Lack of space on your startup disk may cause all kinds of issues: app slowdown, app crashes, high CPU usage, and MacBook overheating. Sometimes this may lead you to suspect that your Mac was hacked.
So, first, check how much storage you have left. And if it is not enough, you can either spend money on getting software that helps to clean your disk or read my article on free cleaning tips: How Do I Free Up Disk Space On My Mac Without Software.
New operating system
Apple releases a new version of macOS every year. While they do everything they can to produce quality software, bugs still happen.
For instance, after the recent iOS update on my iPhone, my podcast app starts freezing every time I pause. I still didn’t find why it is happening because I am too lazy busy.
In the case of the issue on hand, if you had a recent OS update, take time to investigate if the issues you are noticing are common for the release.
Check for hardware failure
Macs are very dependable, and they can serve for many years. However, any hardware gradually fails. For example, a failing disk causes unexplained app crashes. Failed RAM will prevent the computer from starting.
There is a good article on the Apple web site about running hardware diagnostics. Try and see what it will report.
Visit Apple Genius Bar
If you have an Apple store nearby, definitely check them out. On several occasions, I had to contact them, they helped me for free. If there is a fee for diagnostics, they should tell you upfront, so you can decide if it’s worth it for you or not.
5 Things To Do If Your Mac Was Hacked
So, you did everything I told you, and you found out that either someone spying or if there was malware on your Mac. There are several things you have to do immediately.
I know it could be painful to change all passwords. I have accounts on hundreds of web sites, and there is no way I could remember all of them. Well, this is not what I am suggesting.
You have to change passwords on the most important sites:
- Your primary email account. The one that is linked to your bank accounts.
- Bank and credit card accounts
- Work email password
- Apple ID and iCloud passwords (note, they are not the same)
If you are using one password for all sites, consider using 1Password utility.
Check bank statements
It never hurts to go over your bank statements (if you have any) once a while. If you notice some suspicious activity, then do a little research. But don’t panic right away if you don’t recognize a charge.
Almost every once, when I check my credit card statements, I see one or more charges which I don’t remember doing. However, after 5 minutes or so, I remember what it was.
Check credit report
Everyone in the U.S. has a right to get a free credit report once a year. Since there are three main agencies, you can get a free report three times a year (one from each agency). Search for “Annual Credit Report” in Google, but be careful to skip some ads and use the legit site.
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
If you didn’t do this yet, turn on two-factor authentication on main sites: email, any money sites, etc. It’s a little bit inconvenient, but it’s the best way to prevent hackers from stealing your data.
I hope I gave you some high-level information you needed in case if you think that your computer was hacked. Now, I suggest to check the articles I mentioned above in the following order, so you know how to deal with the problems outlined:
Last Updated on
Do not panic if your iPhone behaves strangely lately. There might be other reasons that explain bugging.
Michael Hellisson shares his personal story of how to tell if an iPhone has been hacked or is it just some kind of bug. And who would be responsible for the whole thing?
These days, even the most carefree user probably wonders, “Is my iPhone secure?”
My Mac Has Been Hacked What Do I Do Free
I want to be sure that no one can get unauthorized access to my iPhone or its security systems for some malicious purpose.
I don’t care what the intention is: financial benefits, information gathering, out of the fun. No matter. My phone should always remain a closed system.
That’s why we all choose the iPhone, right? They taught us that it’s immune to almost all types of viruses and guarded against any possible attacks.
And that’s what I thought until some exciting turn of the event came into my life.
About two years ago someone broke into my house and stole nothing. My stuff remained as they were. I was confused, and the police had no suspects.
After a couple of weeks of investigation, I started getting back to a healthy life and even forgot everything with all the work and many other problems. Suddenly I began to realize something went wrong with my iPhone.
Here I probably need to mention that my work is closely connected with the law. I have access to some confidential information from airways companies. So I’ve always got this feeling someone might be tapping my iPhone, emails, and phone calls.
Suspicious sounds during phone calls
First, some beeping noise started to interrupt my conversations. It was like loud beeps and squeals that broke out in the middle of chats and then disappeared. My iPhone hadn’t any physical damage and never fell on the ground. That’s why my suspicions began to rise.
Depletion of data
Next thing — I got this strong feeling that my device does not work correctly. As if someone was running many tasks in the background on it without my supervision. Then I found out that once my iPhone got hacked, the dodgy app installed on it sent information to its remote feature and increased data usage. That’s why it’s a good idea to know how much data is being eaten monthly on your device.
But my iPhone? Can it be hacked? Really? I mean, it’s some kind of misleading as the iPhone has the most strong security features. That was my belief.
Surprisingly, many apps can do just that even with the iPhone. Of course, it would be difficult to monitor devices by IP, but if you let your iPhone without attention for more than 20 minutes, someone can install a dodgy app onto it. And you won’t be able to tell for sure it has been hacked. That’s what happened with my iPhone.
Can an iPhone be hacked remotely?
In my case, someone installed a malicious app into the iPhone so that I couldn’t spot it for a long time. After everything was revealed, I proceeded to learn how Iphones can be hacked, and discovered there are many ways for cybercriminals and other bad guys to break into our devices without even touching it.
Ok, giving that I don’t jailbreak my iPhone to avoid getting a virus or being hacked, I still cannot cross out a potential attack that might hide in some app. But what are the chances?
A couple of months after the robbery, Google’s Project Zero security research team revealed an unprecedented attack on the iPhone. Some hackers spotted a “zero-day vulnerability” that let them gain access to the root of the iOS system and infect thousands of devices. All iPhones got infected simply by visiting certain websites. Hackers stole personal information before Apple managed to patch their security holes.
That means that even very unlikely; an iPhone can get unlocked with remote hacking tools. It is not immutable to spam, viruses, spyware, theft, and even phishing attacks. That terrified me to my very core, so I proceeded with my investigation.
What can hackers get?
If an iPhone has been hacked, nasty criminals will get access to all passwords. The Internet browsing history and call logs can be pulled anytime as well.
They will be also capable of:
- Turning on microphone & listening in on my phone calls.
- Monitoring my real-time location.
- Searching through photos & videos.
- Logging keystrokes to detect passwords & usernames.
Is my iPhone hacked?
To separate paranoia from real facts, I’ve prepared a list of most common clear signs that may signal something went wrong with iOS.
Notice that if you have only one sign from the list below, there is probably some kind of bug in one of the apps you regularly use. Only if you have enough evidence, you can start a further investigation. So do not let emotions cloud your judgements, ok?
With my iPhone, it was almost impossible to tell if it was warmer than usual. I didn’t spot much difference. My iPhone regularly gets warm because I love using graphic-intense apps. However, if your iPhone regularly feels warmer than usual, or even hot to touch, and you don’t use feature-rich programs. It might be something software-wise that makes your processor work harder and causes overheating.
Beware if your secrets go away. If some confidential information that only a small number of trusted people know suddenly gets out, the chances are that leak came as a result of an iPhone being hacked, especially if you don’t filter the information you share over your phone calls.
That’s how it happened to me. Some confidential data that I exchanged through my emails and WhatsApp was exposed to unauthorized parties. That was completely my fault.
On my iPhone, I noticed a rapid change in performance, and my data plan exceeded all normal limits. As with a computer, a slowdown in performance means infection, so it was a clear sign someone hacked my iPhone.
Battery drains quickly
Any dodgy app will suck your battery. My iPhone was doing well at this point, but I’ve heard that it’s a common concern when a malicious app runs in plain sight.
Random starts & shutdowns
My iPhone didn’t do that, but I’ve heard that usually, if it’s hacked, it can switch off or turn on as if someone controlled it. My iPhone didn’t dial numbers, start apps and perform other kinds of “paranormal” activity, but hey, if it does something like that, doesn’t this mean you should already be dialing the support center?
Who can hack my Iphone and why?
As I mentioned before, you can always meet people with interest in extracting some personal data from your device. All these malicious programs that were invented as experiments are now instruments for making money. In my case, the purpose was purely information for further use to override in competitive wars. Unfortunately, my reaction was not as quick as it should be.
Is it legal?
It is absolutely against illegal to install spyware on devices to spy or stalk another person. My attorney also confirmed that only parents could legally install such software on their child’s smartphones or tablets. In all other cases, it’s a crime. So I’ve gathered a qualified technical and legal team on my side to prove that my iPhone had been hacked.
How to protect Iphone from being hacked?
I’ve put together these vital precautions so you can secure information sent via your iPhone. They are all simple yet powerful.
iPhone features are constantly updating, sometimes so frequently that it’s hard to keep up with them. My iPhone sends me one hundred notifications during the day, some of which I will never really care about. But once in a month, I make all necessary settings to ensure it’s updated.
Go to Settings > General > tap Software Update.
Don’t share too much over the phone
It may sound obvious, but people sometimes underestimate the power of cyber espionage tools. Our smartphones are far more attractive targets now, and they basically “spewing” data like fountains in all directions around them. My golden rule now is to keep my mouth shut over the phone when it comes to revealing secret information that I know others may be interested in.
Retain from public WIFI
The same refers to sending and receiving confidential information using public Wi-Fi. My primary task was to remove this habit. While doing this, we share our traffic with everyone around. And hackers are usually well at setting up open, unencrypted Wi-Fi hotspots.
If there are no options available, here are something I never do while using public Wi-Fi:
Log in to my bank accounts or input any of my bank or card details,
Entire personal data; if a website warns, it will expose it to the network.
I also review credit card bills, bank statements, and phone bills. If something doesn’t add up, I send out my email report immediately.
Careful with Bluetooth
Hackers use specialized tools to intercept your Bluetooth signal and break into your device. I was intimidated to find out that through just Bluetooth, they can get my messages, my phone book, texts, and even a photo gallery.
To avoid dealing with “bluebugging”, don’t accept pairing requests from unknown parties and set strong passwords of a minimum of six mixed characters.
I’ve never done that to my iPhone. I know where it finishes. My cousin once jailbroke his phone and got the advantage of some third-party apps (not from the app store). He voided a warranty and thus left the device open to malware. God knows what stuck there.
Think of it like that: the legitimate user’s devices control the password reset process. Hp printer downloads for mac. Usually, hackers land on a platform that sends SMS to the phone number of your trusted device and cannot move forward. When you jailbreak iPhone, you grant them a way to pass through and take control over the whole OS.
Don’t open suspicious emails
I never open messages and emails from people I don’t know. A “phishing” letter that criminals send in mass usually contains a dodgy code that can inundate my iPhone with popups, or simply redirects me to websites where hackers earn money from sales or advertisement. To prevent my nervous system from dealing with a plethora of annoying apps, I stay away from all suspicious letters.
My Iphone has been hacked. What’s the first step
If you believe it’s been hacked, don’t rush into stress: my case proved there are many advanced technical applications to detect, notify, and protect your device.
But first, here are some steps to stop information leak and clean up the damage as much as possible. That’s what I did first after my consultation with support Centre:
Delete odd apps
I reviewed the list of my apps and searched for the ones I didn’t remember installing. Deleted all of them.
Restore from backup
As my iPhone behaved strangely, nonetheless, I performed a factory reset and reinstall the system. First, I had backed up and saved my data. Then moved it all away and got fresh started.
Backup your iPhone first, as when you reset your phone, you lose all the information.
< Clear history and Website data>
My iPhone proceeded misbehaving, so I checked the browser and cleaned all the cookies and other stuff that usually gather at the background of Safari.
App support can help
If you’re not dealing with some serious spyware, the App support can come in handy and help remove malware. Given that I was completely sure my iPhone had been hacked, plus it was in my ownership for less than a year, plus I haven’t done anything that violates license agreement, like jailbreaking, the service was free for me.
Let’s wrap it up
Whenever there’s something that people might value, there will be a marketplace for it. And your information may be a goldmine. At least because an app on your device may hold the key to your bank account or because you don’t filter what you share over the phone.
I’ve learned that no device can be immutable through my own bitter experience. Criminals can steal your data by making you click on some phishing link, insert the dodgy code into one of the unofficial apps, or simply physically install spyware on your device as was in my case.
Thankfully, it’s not so difficult to take some preventive measures if you want to hackproof your device. First and foremost, do not use emails and messengers to exchange confidential data. These are non-secure tools, and you can never be sure a third-party app does not monitor your chats. And second, don’t jailbreak your phone. With it, you grant thiefs the way to bypass security features and gain access to the operational system and your personal data. If you believe someone has hacked your phone, contact the Support Centre and explain your concerns. And last but not least, always keep your phone in your possession.
These precautions may sound easy and non-obligatory, but in this age of mass surveillance, they could be very useful.