While surfing the internet, some users have seen a popup message saying Your computer has been compromised or hacked. Different users have seen this message on different browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc. After getting this warning message, the affected users scanned their computers with the antivirus installed on their systems but the antivirus did not find any threat. If the antivirus threat report is clear, what does this message mean? Is this message real or fake? In this article, we will see what the Your computer has been compromised or hacked message means and what you should do if you see this message on your computer.
Your computer has been compromised or hacked
According to the feedback of the affected users, their web browser refuses to close after they receive the popup message. Also, a contact number is displayed along with the warning message. When they contacted that number, the support person asked them for some money to fix the problem. On the other hand, some users have also reported that after visiting a certain web page, instead of the warning popup message, they heard a voice saying “Your PC is hacked.”
Some users were also told to give access to their computers in order to resolve the issue. This is a spam and misleading message. You should ignore it otherwise, you will become the prey of hackers. Moreover, if you grant access to your computer to the person on the call, he/she might steal the data stored on your computer that may contain sensitive information.
Such types of warning messages usually display either a contact number or a link. We suggest you do not click on the link displayed in such types of warning messages. If you do so, a virus or malware may enter your system and may start sending your data to the hackers. Or, clicking on that link may install a program on your system. That program may contain a suspicious code. Such types of malicious programs are designed to change the registry keys on a user’s computer.
If you see a Your computer has been compromised or hacked warning message while surfing the internet, you should take the following steps immediately in order to protect your computer from malware or virus infection:
- Disconnect your Internet connection
- Close your web browser
- Scan your system with antimalware
- Update your web browser
- Remove unwanted extensions
- Delete your browser cache or reset your browser
- Uninstall the recently installed programs
- Run SFC and DISM scans
Below, we have described all these steps in detail.
1] Disconnect your Internet connection
Immediately disconnect your Internet connection first.
2] Close your web browser
The next thing that you should do is to close your web browser. But according to the users, the popup message may prevent you from closing the web browser. If such a thing happens to you, follow the below-mentioned steps to close your web browser:
- Press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys to launch the Task Manager.
- When the Task Manager appears on your screen, select the Processes tab.
- You will see your web browser under the Apps section. Right-click on your web browser and select End Task.
If the above method fails, force shut down your computer by pressing and holding the power button and then turn it on.
3] Scan your system with antimalware
If you have clicked on the link provided in the warning message or if you have granted access to your computer to the person on call, there is a strong possibility that your computer has been infected by a virus. Run a full system antivirus scan.
- If you are using the default Windows Defender, then scan your PC with it and also use a portable on-demand 3rd-party antivirus software.
- If you are using a 3rd-party antivirus, scan your PC with it as well as use Microsoft Safety Scanner. This is a free tool provided by Microsoft to all Windows users. You can download it from Microsoft’s official website.
- You should also use AdwCleaner.
4] Update your web browser
Launch your web browser and close all the opened tabs if any.
Now update your web browser. It is recommended to always use the latest version of the software in order to avoid glitches. If you use the latest version of the web browser, the chances of getting a virus or malware attack become less.
Read: Online Fraud in Cyber crime: Prevention, Detection, Recovery
5] Remove unwanted extensions
Now, the next step is to remove unwanted extensions from your web browser. Extensions make our work easier on a web browser. Sometimes, extensions cause problems. If you have clicked on the link displayed in the warning message, it is possible that an extension is installed on your browser without your knowledge. Hence, it is important to check if there is any unwanted extension installed on your browser. If you find any unwanted extension or an extension that is installed on your web browser without your knowledge, remove it immediately.
6] Delete your browser cache or reset your browser
You should also delete your browsing history, including the cookie and cache data. Press the Ctrl + Shift + Delete keys to open the Clear Browsing Data window in your web browser. This shortcut works with most web browsers. When the Clear Browsing Data window appears, select cookies, cache, and browsing history. In the time range, select All Time. If you want to delete your saved passwords, you can also do that.
Alternatively, you may want to consider resetting your browser to default state to be very safe.The steps to reset some popular web browsers are explained below:
- To reset or refresh Mozilla Firefox, open its settings and go to “Help > Troubleshooting Information.” Now, click on the Refresh Firefox button.
- To reset Google Chrome, open its settings and go to Advanced Settings. Now, click on the Restore settings to their original defaults button.
- To reset Microsoft Edge, open its settings and then click on the Reset Settings option on the left pane.
7] Uninstall the recently installed programs
If you have called the scammers or clicked on the link displayed in the warning message, the scammers might have installed a program on your system. Open the Apps & Features page in WIndows 11/10 Settings and see if there is any recently installed program. If yes, uninstall it immediately. The following steps will guide you on how to do that.
- Open Windows 11/10 Settings.
- Go to “Apps > Apps & Features.”
- Sort all the installed programs by date. For this, select Date installed in the Sort by drop-down.
- See if there is any program that is installed without your knowledge. If yes, uninstall it.
8] Run SFC and DISM scans
It is also possible that some of your system image files are damaged due to malware or virus infection. To check this, run an SFC scan. SFC stands for System File Checker. It is an automated tool developed by Microsoft that checks for damaged or corrupted system image files and repairs them (if possible).
We also suggest you run a DISM scan on your system. The DISM or Deployment Image Servicing and Management is a command-line tool. Like SFC, it also repairs the corrupted or damaged system image files. It is usually used when SFC fails to repair the system image files.
What does it mean if your computer is compromised?
A compromised computer is a computer, the confidentiality of which is adversely impacted, either intentionally or unintentionally. The term Compromised computer is usually used for hacked computers. There are many ways by which hackers can hack your system. The most common way is the phishing attempt. The phishing attempts are usually done by sending an email to the user with some suspicious links. When a user clicks on these links, he will be redirected to the website that looks exactly the same as the official website. These websites trick users and they enter their confidential information while signing in. In this way, hackers steal the confidential information of the users.
While surfing the internet via your web browser, some of you might have seen the messages similar to the following ones after visiting some specific websites:
- Your computer might be at risk. Run a free antivirus scan to protect your computer.
- Virus detected. Run a free antivirus scan to remove the virus from your computer.
Such types of websites are malicious websites. Clicking on any of the links on such websites installs malware on the user’s computer. After the malware is installed, a malicious code is executed on his/her computer and the hacker is able to steal the information from the infected computer. Some malware are also capable of changing the registry keys on a Windows computer.
Does Microsoft call you about your computer being hacked?
Keep in mind that neither Microsoft nor its partners call you for your computer security issues. You need to learn how to identify scams that fraudulently use the Microsoft name. The motive of these calls is to steal the confidential data from the user’s computer so that they could use it for blackmailing purposes. The person on call may also ask to access your computer by installing a particular software. If you grant him/her access to your computer, he/she may execute a malicious code on your system or completely lock your computer. After that, the hacker will ask you for a certain amount of money to unlock your computer.
Hope this helps.