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5 Steps You Need to Take After a Computer Hack

Published: October 23, 2019

How easy is it for hackers to get personal information? It feels like every time IT professionals come up with new security and technologies, hackers find a way to get around them. But even if hacks come with the territory and can’t always be prevented, you can prepare for the aftermath if one does happen. The steps you take after a hack are critical to keep any damage to a minimum and prevent things from getting worse.

Here are 5 steps you need to take after a hack:

1. Change Your Passwords

Hackers often steal information through email phishing attacks—that is, they reach out through email and pretend to be a trustworthy person or company so they can get information from you like passwords or account numbers. If this happens, change your passwords for everything work and personal: email, shared accounts, social networks, everything! Make sure to choose a unique password for each account. Mix them up with capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If hackers had access to any of these accounts, you’ve now cut them off.

2. Identify the Problem

Maybe you clicked an email that didn’t appear like malware and wasn’t filtered to your spam folder. Maybe you were connected to a public WIFI network and you didn’t realize it was vulnerable. Maybe you work directly with a third-party contractor and they were the ones hacked, and your information was caught up in a bigger scam. Once you learn how the hack occurred, you can use it to think of new ways to prevent one from happening again. Download virus scan software that will run through your computer to find any malware. If you can’t connect to the Internet, try to restart your computer in Safe Mode. Some providers even offer an option for you to download, but without connecting to an Internet source.

3. Assess the Damage

Open important folders and files to see what private data may have been compromised and may still be at risk. Check online bank statements to see if any transactions took place without your approval. If you have anything saved on special drives or servers, double check to make sure they’re still secure. Anything that’s important needs to be pulled from the computer and copied onto a clean, new drive. Depending on the hack, the entire network may even need to be backed up.

4. Start the Recovery Process

Contact anyone who may be vulnerable to further hacks because of their connection to you; let them know what happened. Be careful when coming across emails, notifications, or requests from people you’re unfamiliar with (or are designed to look familiar but are really frauds). Hover your cursor over hyperlinks to see if the URL looks sketchy. See if you recognize the person’s email host. Is it Gmail or Outlook? Or does it just look like those providers? Take a close look at everything that seems even vaguely unfamiliar.

5. Learn from It

Hacks can be very disruptive and even harmful, but you can use the experience to learn. Participate in any company trainings so you can keep up to date on the latest information. Consciously apply best practices when dealing with email notifications, sensitive data, and other stakeholders. If you lead by example and do everything you can to keep data safe, your peers will follow your lead.


Hacks are something people and organizations deal with on a regular basis. Since so much of our daily lives rely on mobile devices and accessible software, there’s a need to keep user data private and secure. Are you interested in cybersecurity and technology? Charter College has Information Technology training programs to prepare you for an entry-level position in IT. Learn from experienced professionals who can guide you to achieving your career goals. To find out how Charter College can ready you for a new job in IT, fill out the form and request more information today.