How to Detect Hackers on Your Network: Warning Signs
You’ve implemented the firewalls and other security mechanisms, documented the policies and procedures, sent out the periodic reminders, and instituted the password policies, but it can still happen – your network could be hacked or hijacked. It can be hard to tell though - network connection can slow due to testing procedures, installing updates, or other functions.
Here Are Seven Clues That Your Network Has Been Hacked:
1. New Programs Have Been Installed
When accepted procedures exist regarding new software installation, one telltale sign that your network has been hacked is that a new, undocumented, and unapproved program has been installed. These "shadow IT" resources can introduce all matter of vulnerabilities to your computing device, putting your users and intellectual property at risk. Ensure you have established processes to monitor changes in your application and OS ecosystem:
- Restrict access to unapproved third-party applications
- Create a list of approved platforms and vendors for employee reference
- Implement network monitoring to detect unknown devices and potential threats
- Conduct regular data audits for a thorough sense of content created, shared, and stored
2. SPAM Is Being Sent Out
Another sign that your network has been hacked is the spam email being sent from one or more company computers or email addresses. Because the addresses are legitimate, many people mistakenly assume that the email itself must also be legitimate, although this can use up bandwidth, reduce productivity, and disrupt day-to-day operations. How can you protect your business from SPAM? Check out the following recommendations:
- Use a two-factor authentication tool that requires an additional set of login information from employees. These codes change frequently and make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to your information.
- Anti-spam solutions guard against more sophisticated types of phishing such as spear-phishing and whaling. These solutions recognize false emails containing strange attachments but may have difficulties detecting emails from a compromised account.
- Educate and train employees on best practices - humans are busy and fallible creatures, so it's important for them to be on the lookout and recognize these types of scams before it's too late. Education is critical.
3. Unusual Increase in Network Activity
An increase in network activity, even without spam emails, can indicate firewall hacking or bypassing. When someone infiltrates your network, they can use your available bandwidth, causing your Internet connection to become slower, and thereby preventing internal or external resources from performing their functions in a timely manner. If you or your employees notice a considerable slowing down, reach out to your IT team so they can run a quick check and determine the cause.
4. Programs Requesting Access
Firewalls help restrict access to your network. But if someone in your organization is prompted to give an unknown program access to your network or other internal programs, then there’s a good chance that rogue software has been surreptitiously installed. During the day, your employees may be so bogged down in work that they don't give a second through to access requests. It's really important to prevent this behavior. By holding regular employee trainings, and sharing security resources, you can help promote better cyber hygiene and prevent employees from responding on autopilot.
5. Security Programs or Firewalls Have Been Uninstalled
One way to get around your organization’s firewall security is to uninstall it, which is another way to determine that you’ve been hacked. Once uninstalled, it becomes simple for that entity to access your network and do whatever they want. It is essential to get your firewalls up and working asap, since they have evolved to respond to a number of threats including: malware, application vulnerabilities, compliance obligations, risks associated with data breaches and loss, and an increasing desire for optimized network performance.
6. Change to Default Browser Home Page
When the default browser has been changed, web pages are being redirected, or a new toolbar has been unknowingly added to a browser, then you need to confirm whether or not you have been hacked. These are the tools you use everyday, and you're the first person to notice any malicious changes. Give your virtual workspace a quick scan everyday, to make sure there haven't been any suspicious changes.
7. Computer Functioning on its Own
When employees don’t seem to be able to control their mouse or when the computer seems to be functioning on its own, then that is a definite sign that someone has been able to access that computer remotely, possibly trying to look at documents, install new software, or read email. The entire computer, including its data, is no longer secure. With every tactic intended to prevent network and firewall hacking comes a new method that can circumvent it. While not all hacking attempts are meant to destroy information, they can still disrupt productivity, and at the very least, indicate that your network is not as secure as it could be. Request a free IT consultation to learn more.