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Discovering that your computer or network might have been compromised can be alarming. However, how you respond in the following moments can significantly impact the outcome, potentially averting a disaster. In this article, we’ve consulted with our cybersecurity experts to outline the signs of a compromised computer and the essential steps to mitigate the damage.

Signs of Compromise

IBM’s latest cybersecurity report reveals a startling statistic: the average data breach goes unnoticed for 277 days. This long timeframe is surprising, considering the swift damage malware, viruses, and other tools can cause. Many users overlook warning signs until significant harm has been done. Here are signs your computer could be infected:

  • Slow computer or network performance
  • Frequent freezes or crashes
  • Sudden pop-ups
  • Locked user accounts
  • Unexplained file changes
  • Strange system behavior (like running after shutdown)
  • Suspicious account activity

What to Do Next

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, here are the immediate steps recommended by our experts:

  1. Take the Network Offline: Immediately isolate the affected device from the network. Do not turn it off or reboot it. While a restart might seem like a fix for many issues, it can worsen the situation with malware. Disconnect from the network but leave the device on.
  2. Contact Your IT Team: Inform your IT team right away. It’s crucial to contain the breach before it spreads further or causes more damage. Experts will investigate, assess the impact, and work swiftly to mitigate the breach. Avoid attempting to fix this on your own; call in the professionals.
  3. Reach Out to Your Attorney: Contact your attorney for significant breaches. Your attorney may recommend specialized legal counsel with expertise in privacy and data security laws. This step ensures compliance with federal and state regulations related to the breach.
  4. Change Passwords and Secure Accounts: While the IT team works on containment, change passwords for all accounts, particularly those with sensitive information like financial data or personal details. Ensure multifactor authentication is enabled where possible.
  5. Monitor Bank Accounts: Cyber-attacks often target financial accounts. While the breach is being addressed, monitor bank accounts, payment systems, and employee payroll platforms for unusual activity. Any anomalies should be reported immediately.

Additional Steps

In the aftermath of a cyber-attack, there may be more steps to take, such as implementing a PR communications plan and notifying law enforcement. However, the priority is to isolate the incident and promptly involve cybersecurity professionals.

Protect Your Business

If you want a reliable cybersecurity team monitoring your business, consider starting with a FREE Cyber Security Risk Assessment. These assessments thoroughly examine your network for vulnerabilities and provide a plan to address them. Preventing a cyber-attack is far more cost-effective than dealing with the aftermath. Book your assessment today at ibsre.com/connect-with-ibs or call 973-575-4950.

Remember, time is of the essence when responding to a data breach. Following these steps and involving the right experts can minimize damage and protect your sensitive information.

Stay vigilant and proactive in the face of cybersecurity threats.