Cyber crime: Help, I have been hacked!
It can happen to anyone, cyber criminals hacking data, websites or even bank accounts. Unfortunately it’s often too late when you find out. But what can you do to kick out the hacker, and keep him or her out forever?
There are different types of cyber crime. The chance that you as a small entrepreneur will encounter cyber crime is not that big, but, if you become a victim, the damage is often considerable.
Types of cyber crime.
These are the types that you can deal with most as an entrepreneur:
Defacing changes the content of a website. Usually to show site visitors that the owner has been hacked.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
DDoS attacks overload your web server, making your website unavailable online.
This is a collective name for all software that tries to disrupt your system. This includes spyware, trojans and viruses. These are spread by means of botnets. Hackers use networks of infected computers to carry out the attacks.
In (email) phishing, the criminal tries to ‘fish’ for information by posing as a reliable party, such as a bank. For example, they can ask for login details and pin codes. The result? An empty bank account.
Ransomware hijacks your computer, so you can no longer access your data. Criminals often charge a large sum of money to unlock your computer. Don’t pay this! Payment does not guarantee that your computer will actually be unlocked. Moreover, there’s a good chance to find another solution than paying the ransom. See the list of solutions below.
Spyware spies on you while using your computer. That data can then be resold to other criminals. Blackmailing on the Internet is called cyber extortion. Criminals can use captured private data against you.
The infamous Trojan horse is dangerous software, packaged as reliable software. So be careful what you download, not everything is what it seems.
Viruses are the best known form of cyber crime. They are programs that interfere with the functioning of your computer. They can damage or delete data and use your email programs to spread themselves.
Are you a victim of cyber crime?
Then go directly to the step-by-step plan below. Not a victim yet, but do you want to prevent cyber crime? Then go directly to the chapter “how to prevent cyber crime”.
How do you know if you’ve been hacked?
In various forms of cyber crime, criminals actively let you know that you have been hacked. For example, ransomware ‘hijacks’ your computer, so you can no longer work. The criminal will demand a ransom from you. When defacing, the cyber criminal changes the content of your website. At first sight nothing may seem wrong with your website. A relatively easy way to find out if your website has been hacked is browsers marking your website as ‘dangerous’. Then you can be sure that someone has hacked you.
Step-by-step plan: Hacked, now what?
Have you become a victim of cyber crime? Then take these steps:
- Do not panic, by staying calm you can think clearly. If necessary, call an expert in the field of cyber security.
- Check the list at the end of this article to find out what to do with specific types of cyber crime.
- Check with the expert if data has been stolen.
- Take a look together where the vulnerabilities are in your security. An open door, but often postponed: update your security software regularly. It may take you a little extra time, but poorly protecting your data will cost you much more.
- Report to the police. Not only for yourself, but also for other entrepreneurs. The police then get a better picture of the problem and can deploy more manpower. Fortunately cyber crime is now being tackled more seriously than before.
Solutions per variant cyber crime.
It is best to take these steps for each type of cyber crime:
Do you or your provider have backups? Then put it online. Good web hosting providers make automatically generated backups of your website for free every day. Don’t you have it? Then hire an expert. Unfortunately, in this case there is often no other option than to take the site offline, save what can be saved and start again, preferably with another web host.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Call your web host, they will try to filter the malicious requests, which will only allow regular visitors to your site. Most web hosting providers have automatic protection against this. If your host does not have this, then it is worth switching to another service.
Malware: spyware, trojans and viruses.
Do you suffer from malware, spyware, trojans, or viruses? Then perform a scan with your malware scanner and remove the software.
Inform the party of which the (login) details are. Is it your own data? Then make sure you change your login details immediately and call the company that is involved in this, for example your bank.
In any case, don’t pay! Try to remove the software with an anti-malware program, load an old backup, try to start the computer in safe mode and try to remove the software again. Is all of this not working? Then you have to reinstall the operating system. This guarantees that the ransomware will be removed but, unfortunately, all your data will be lost as well.
How do you prevent cyber crime?
Although you can never completely exclude cyber crime, you can do a few things to limit the risk.
Use a good firewall.
Firewalls monitor all network traffic with your computer. They are the first line of protection against cyber crime and filter out malware. The firewall is often combined with anti-malware.
What we used to call virus scanners is now called anti-malware. It detects and removes spyware, trojans and viruses.
Make enough backups.
By making backups often, you avoid losing all your data in a hack. Make use of the well-known free services such as Google Drive and Drop Box. This means that your backups will be online and accessible from all over the world. Whatever happens to your computer, if you do the backups right, you can rest assured that you’ll never lose any important information.
Watch your smartphone usage.
Nowadays we do more and more on our smartphones, so also deal with security as well as you do with a computer. Make sure that your phone cannot be unlocked without a password and do not install suspicious apps. If you don’t really trust a particular app the best thing to do is to de-authorize the application and, if the app is indispensable, set it up again afterwards.
We hope this article helped you to prevent or solve any problems related to hacking. As you have been able to read, prevention is the best cure and the best protection after being hacked are online backups, both from your website and from the important data stored on your computer. If you need more information we recommend this excellent article, written by Mat Honan. Good luck!