As more and more lives become dependent on data systems and Information Technology, the risk of hacking incidents and the consequences that arise from them have also increased. Today, many people process sensitive information such as bank account transactions online. Some systems are largely unprotected as most people and organization do not use managed IT systems that tend to be more secure.
The information that exist within these systems is lucrative to criminals around the world and they have increasingly become adept at hacking into personal and commercial information systems to steal money or personal data that can then be sold with malicious intent. However, despite our best efforts, our systems might still get hacked. Here then is what to do when that happens.
Identify The Nature Of The Attack
When you realize that someone has hacked your system or is trying to, the first thing to do is to remain calm and try and understand what their intended target is (or was). This allows you to be able to do two things: Understand the extent of the loss and take corrective measures and at the same time be able to thwart further intrusion (or limit the initial intrusion) if they had not managed to get into the system. Attacks could be directed at numerous points around your information system. For example, they could be aimed at your online bank transactions, your mailbox or it could be ransomware intended to block access to your information system until payment is done.
Disconnect Affected Terminals From The System
Understanding what the hacker is trying to do will help you determine what his or her next steps will be. Usually, hackers will try to take and keep control of your system, extract data, make transactions or encrypt your data so that you are forced to pay them to get your data back. For this reason, it is important to immediately disconnect from your network the minute you realize that you are under attack.
Remember that hackers can use multiple channels so ensure that you disconnect wired connections, wireless connections such as WIFI, Bluetooth, and cellular data. This prevents further attacks by isolating their point of entry while at the same time protecting users across the network. Once you disconnect your computer, remember to restart the machine to remove any non-persistent malware that the hacker might have planted in your machine.
Don’t Pay The Ransom
If someone has taken over your computer and they are promising to give you back access when you pay a ransom, decline paying the ransomware ransom. This is for many reasons. One is the fact that because they are criminals, they are likely to demand more and more money from you with no guarantee that they will ever give you back your data. In most cases, people end up losing vast amounts of money and never recovering their data.
Secondly, even in the remote scenario that you get back your data after paying the ransom, paying puts you at further risk of attacks as they realize that you are willing to pay. In other words, as far as the hackers are concerned, you have just told them that they can make money from you over and over again.
Report To Authorities
Many people skip this step and thus make it impossible for authorities to prosecute these hackers when they are caught. Please ensure that you file a complaint with the relevant authorities and give them all the information they require to investigate the case.
Taking these steps after a hacking incident will reduce the damage that the hackers can do to you as well as help authorities bring them to justice. After such an attack, you might want to consider upgrading the security of your system or moving your sensitive data to more secure cloud storage solutions to prevent future intrusions.