Protected Voices: Have You Been Hacked?

The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides cybersecurity recommendations to political campaigns on multiple topics, including hacking awareness, to help mitigate the risk of cyber influence operations targeting U.S. elections.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Ronnee, a staff operations specialist with the FBI. Today I’m going to talk about possible indicators that your computer system or devices may have been hacked. 

However, before delving into those, I want to emphasize the importance of adhering to the cybersecurity principles outlined in the other videos in this series. Chances are, by the time you realize that your systems may have been compromised, the attacker has likely already taken most or all of your data and information. 

Indicators, or symptoms, that your computer or devices have been hacked can vary from nothing identifiable to the most obvious, like getting a ransomware message or having your financial accounts drained.

Some of the more blatant indicators include: 

Your password not working. While this may be a temporary issue with an Internet connection or a requested website having technical issues, it could also been an instance which an attacker has hijacked your account and changed the password.

People receive emails or social media invites from you which you did not send.

Maybe you get large number of pop up advertisements.

Or you get fake antivirus messages. 

You have unexplained online activity. 

You have new browser toolbars, applications, or software which you do not recognize or didn’t install.

There are also indicators related to how your computer or device is behaving. For example: your device suddenly slows down, you see a marked increase in data usage, your device randomly restarts, or you’re experiencing redirected Internet searches.

Attackers will also use subtle ways to avoid detection. You may notice that your security software or anti-virus has been somehow turned off. Your security settings on your device may have been changed, your logging or registry editor may have been disabled, or system settings may have been altered or disabled.

Trying to identify if you have been hacked, and what may have been compromised, is a difficult task. Even large corporations with large financial resources dedicated to cybersecurity fall victim. We hear or read about these incidents all of the time. 

Campaigns shouldn’t hesitate to hire professional cybersecurity experts, just as you would hire professional video services for a campaign ad or catering services for a fundraising event. Make sure you do your own research to identify a reputable firm.

Hardening your systems against attacks and thereby making yourself a harder target for would-be cyber attackers is absolutely critical. Use other videos in this series to enhance your campaign’s cybersecurity posture and awareness. 

Remember, your voice matters, so protect it.

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