Securing Your Home Network and PC After a Hack

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It can happen to anyone, perhaps you fell for the 'Ammyy' Scam, were clickjacked, got hit with ransomware, or your PC contracted a nasty virus. No matter how you were hacked, you're feeling vulnerable, as if you just came home to a ransacked house. What do you do now?

Take a deep breath and keep reading. In this article. we're going to discuss how to recover from a hack and show you how to better secure your network and PC in hopes of preventing future incidents.

Step 1 - Isolate and Quarantine

In order to recover from a hack, you first need to isolate your computer so that the hacker can't continue to control it or use it to attack other computers (especially, if it has become part of a botnet). You should physically disconnect your computer from the Internet. If you believe your router may have also been compromised then you should disconnect it from your internet modem as well.

For notebook PCs, don't rely on disconnecting via software, as the connection could show that you've turned it off, when, in fact, it is still connected. Many notebook PCs have a physical switch that you can use to disable the Wi-Fi connection. Once you have severed the hackers connection to your computer and/or network, the healing process can begin.

Step 2 - Consider Setting Your Router Back to Factory Defaults and Reconfiguring it

If you think that someone may have compromised your Internet router, you may want to consider performing a factory default reset. This will clear away any compromised passwords, remove any firewall rules added by hackers, etc.

Just make sure you have located the factory default admin account name and password from your router manufacturer's user manual or support website before you reset your router to its factory default. You should also review and write down all configuration settings found in the settings pages before resetting as well. Change the admin password to a strong password immediately after the reset (and make sure you remember what it is).

Step 3 - Obtain a different IP Address From Your ISP if Possible

While not a necessity, it might be a good idea to see if you can obtain a new IP address from your Internet Provider. You can attempt this yourself by attempting a DHCP release and renew from your router's WAN connection page. Some ISPs will give you the same IP you had previously, some will give you a new one.

Why would a new IP be better than the one you had previously? If a hacker's malware was connecting to your computer by its IP address, a new IP would be akin to changing your phone number. It makes it more difficult for the hacker to relocate your computer and reestablish its connections to botnets.

Step 4 - Disinfect Your Infected Computers

You're going to want to rid your computer of the malware that the hacker installed or tricked you into installing. This process is discussed in great depth in our article: I've been Hacked! Now What? Follow the instructions in the article to help you get all your important files off the infected computer and disinfect it.

Step 5 - Fortify Your Defenses

You should develop a multi-layered defense-in-depth strategy to protect your network and computers from future threats. Check out our article on How to Develop a Defense-in-Depth Strategy for Protecting Your Home PC for details.

Step 6 - Patch and Update

Your anti-malware software is only as good as its last update. You need to make sure that your anti-malware software is set to auto update so that it can be ready for all the nasty new malware that is out in the wild. Periodically check the date of your anti-malware's definitions file to make sure that it is up to date. Make sure your operating system and applications are patched and up to date as well.

Step 7 - Test Your Defenses

You should Test Your Firewall and consider scanning your computer with a security vulnerability scanner and possibly a second opinion malware scanner to make sure that your defenses are as secure as possible and there aren't holes in your virtual walls.