How to Tell If Your Home Network Has Been Hacked - And What to Do About It

In this article, we discuss how you can detect if your home network has been hacked and what to do in case it is so. Know the methods and tools available to help you figure out if your Home network has been compromised.

If you're like most people, you have a home network Research surveys indicate that on average, Americans have at least 10 connected devices, from computers and smartphones to appliances, toys, exercise equipment, and more.

And while you might think that hackers aren't interested in your washing machine or the contents of your refrigerator, the fact is that all these connected devices could be creating a significant security risk to you and your family. Every one of those devices represents a potential entry point for someone who wants to steal data, use your devices for nefarious purposes, or otherwise wreak havoc. And unless you have put robust home network security into place, something as seemingly innocuous as your smart lightbulb could lead to a serious problem.

Considering how much information is shared via your home Wifi network - everything from passwords to credit card information to personal photos and conversations - it's vital that you not only protect your network from even casual eavesdroppers, and learn to recognize the signs of trouble so you can quickly take action.

Signs Your Home Network Has Been Compromised

Unless you have secured your home network and every device connected to it, it's surprisingly easy for hackers to gain access. And since you don't know how far your signal actually travels, there's a fairly wide radius of risk around your home.

That's not all. It's not just the neighbourhood teenagers connecting to your Wifi signal who can cause problems. Hackers are more sophisticated than ever, and they have tools to help them crack into your devices and networks. Massive attacks on major networks have been linked to unsecured devices, for example. Hackers found a way to access webcams and security cameras from a single manufacturer, and because most were not secured, they tuned those devices into bots that disrupted service to thousands of websites -- without any of the device owners even realizing it.

Network security has improved in recent years, but that hasn't totally stopped hackers. So how can you tell if you've been hit?
  • General decrease in internet speeds. The more devices connected to your network, the slower it will be. Check the list of devices connected to your network. If there are any you don't recognize, someone is on your network without permission.
  • Changes to your security settings. Your firewalls are suddenly down, or there have been other changes to your security protocols.
  • Changes to your other settings. The changes might be subtle, and you might even start questioning your sanity. But when programs are left open, things are moved around on your desktop, the default home page suddenly changes, or the cursor starts moving around on its own, someone has access to your device.
  • Requests for access. You might receive a request for access from a program that looks unfamiliar, or that you didn't install.
  • Password changes. Your password no longer works, or you're locked out of the device altogether.

What to Do If You've Been Hacked

The first step if you suspect you've been hacked is to reset your router. Press the reset button on the router to restore it to the factory settings. You'll have to reconfigure the settings, but resetting will boot anyone using the network off.

The next step is to reset the router password. Never use the default password; hackers are familiar with the patterns used by manufacturers and can easily crack them with little effort. Use a random string of letters, numbers, and symbols at least eight characters long to secure the router. Once you're back online and have run a full virus scan on the machine, change all of your account passwords as well, in case the hackers have collected that information.

Finally, update your router's firmware. Out-of-date firmware is one of the most common sources of network hacks, and many people aren't even aware that their router needs an update. Although some models will automatically update, most require manual updates. You can find updates and download the necessary firmware on the manufacturer website.
Update router firmware
In addition to updating your router, update the firmware on any devices connected to it. Again, something as seemingly innocent as your coffee maker could create an opportunity for a hacker if the firmware or password is out of date.

Once you've locked down the network, you can keep it safe by using high-quality antivirus software, avoiding suspicious links, and promptly updating software and firmware as needed. You can also provide access to visitors by maintaining a guest wi-fi network separate from your primary network. Use a separate password for this network to share with visitors, keeping your personal information and devices safe and secure.


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