A telltale sign of an infected computer is that it changes your default browser search engine to something unfamiliar. You might also see annoying pop-ups (adware) frequently. An easy way to check for suspicious activity as well as keep malware and hackers at bay is using an antivirus. Norton 360 is my top pick because it gave me perfect detection scores in real-time and packs several advanced security features to keep you safe. You can try Norton risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee. Remove malware with Norton 360

Quick Guide: 3 Easy Steps to Secure Your PC from Hackers

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3 Signs That Your Computer Has Been Hacked

A computer that has been hacked may exhibit many signs such as poor performance, unsightly ad clutter, and unfamiliar programs. These signs also may not be initially evident, and some can even hide away completely unnoticed while they harvest your data and logins. I’ll discuss 3 of the most obvious signs, but keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list. The best way to know for sure if you have been hacked is by using a premium antivirus.

Sign 1: Your PC Suddenly Becomes Sluggish

One of the most common signs you’ve been hacked is that your computer or network connection gets noticeably slow. This mainly occurs when a hacker plants a specific virus or malware, like a keylogger, to extract your sensitive data. Similarly, your PC may also slow down if infected with a cryptojacker, a hacking technique that uses your computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies without your consent. In this case, you’ll notice your CPU and GPU fans suddenly start working on overdrive. A good way to figure out if these unwanted programs are the root cause of your issue is to look in the task manager for unfamiliar programs that are eating up a lot of system resources. Some of these tools will hide away or go under the names of recognized programs as well. If, for instance, you find your PC gobbling up 50% CPU usage for a program that was barely used before now then this could be a telltale sign of malware. You can correct some of the initial issues on your own by uninstalling the offending programs, but this often won’t be enough to fully get rid of the virus. It could be hiding in deeper folders or have multiple instances. In the case of keyloggers, it may be impossible to find it on your own as they often don’t use a lot of system resources.

Sign 2: Strange Pop-Ups, Unrecognized Programs, and Browser Changes

Among the most common forms of malware in compromised computers is adware, software that automatically displays pop-ups and advertising material when you’re online. So, if your computer is infected, there are high chances you’ll see strange pop-up ads while connected to the internet. Some adware also adds toolbars to your browsers. While adware isn’t one of the more dangerous forms of malware, clicking a pop-up ad can lead to worse forms of viruses creeping into your PC. Adware is also the most likely of the common forms of adware to cause an entire PC slowdown. This is because it downloads unwanted applications and drives system resources to them, which makes for a worse user experience. While adware itself is easy enough to get rid of through uninstalling, getting rid of all of it and/or the files it may have come packaged with is a more difficult task. Even Windows Defender struggles to remove unwanted adware.

Sign 3: Your Online Credentials Have Been Compromised

One of the more dangerous and obvious signs that your computer has been hacked manifests in your accounts being compromised. A hacker may change your user credentials for online banking, social media, and email accounts. If you notice strange online activity on any of your accounts or purchases you never made, it’s quite likely your login information has been compromised. A stellar antivirus can help you secure all your sensitive data with a password manager that monitors your accounts and generates difficult-to-hack passwords. Before doing anything else, it is best to first freeze any affected bank accounts and avoid logging into any other accounts until you get an antivirus. This form of malware shouldn’t be handled without one, as it can result in further information leaks.

The Best Antivirus Software to Protect From Hackers — Full Test Results in January 2023

1. Norton — Offers 100% Accurate Real-Time Protection to Keep Hackers at Bay

Key Features: Norton 360 is my everyday tool to keep me safe from all malware, no matter how complex they are. It gave me perfect detection scores throughout my rigorous tests, identifying 100% of the malware (including many zero-day viruses) I had planted on my PC. Apart from offline security, Norton also keeps you safe online with its Safe Web browser extension compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. As a regular Mac user, I was delighted to see it work on Safari as most other antivirus browser extensions aren’t compatible with it. I opened 28 malicious websites and URLs in scam emails but Safe Web blocked all of them, making my browsing experience completely safe. I was especially impressed by Norton’s sophisticated firewall, which automatically configures itself depending on the security of your network connection. I noticed it was much less accepting of incoming traffic when I was connected to public WiFi than on my home internet. Apart from letting you have total control of your internet traffic, it monitors all your applications and notices any suspicious changes to keep you safe from threats you may not even be aware of! A rare feature in Norton I’ve seen very few antiviruses offer is cloud storage backup. You can store all your sensitive files on its cloud so that they remain safe even in the unlikely event your PC gets infected. It offers incrementally increasing cloud storage on all its plans, with 100GB on its most premium plan. Overall, Norton 360 is my #1 pick because of its consistently perfect real-time protection scores. Its Deluxe plan offers the best value, providing parental controls, a VPN, webcam protection, dark web monitoring, 50GB cloud storage, and usability on up to 5 devices simultaneously. You can try Norton risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee. Remove malware with Norton 360

2. McAfee — Boasts a Highly Configurable Firewall That Alerts You to Potential Hackers

Key Features: McAfee is a top-tier antivirus that packs plenty of security features to keep you safe from hackers. It passed my detection tests with flying colors, detecting 100% of all viruses (including zero-day malware and keyloggers) in real-time. Its superb detection capabilities can be attributed to its highly configurable firewall. I was particularly impressed by its Intrusion Detection feature, which alerts you to potential hackers whenever they try accessing your computer. Meanwhile, the NetGuard feature flags any suspicious network connections and keeps you safe Seeing a “Vulnerability Scanner” on McAfee was a delight — it took 3 minutes to scan my computer and identify whether my operating system and programs were up to date. Updating your software is essential because it prevents hackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities on your device. Also, McAfee hosts a Ransom Guard feature that monitors files on your computer 24/7 for any suspicious changes, preventing ransomware from taking your confidential data hostage. It uses advanced machine learning technology to stop ransomware attacks before they can happen. In summary, McAfee is an exceptionally good antivirus that provides superior security against hackers and fast-emerging threats used for hacking. It uses a cloud-based system called GTI (Global Threat Intelligence) to identify new threats by matching their behavior to old and known viruses. I recommend buying McAfee’s Total Protection plan, which comes in 3 plans — basic, premium, and advanced. The basic plan protects 1 device, whereas the other two can be used on unlimited devices. The premium plan provides the best value because it includes a VPN and a personal data cleanup tool that removes your data from high-risk broker sites. You can try McAfee risk-free with its 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Remove malware with McAfee

3. TotalAV — Provides Near-Perfect Real-Time Protection

TotalAV is an excellent choice for budget-conscious users because it offers excellent protection against fast-emerging threats and hackers. After repeated testing, TotalAV detected 99.5% of all viruses in real-time, only failing to detect complex zero-day malware hidden inside zip files. I was impressed by TotalAV’s Safe Site browser extension, which safeguards your PC from phishing sites and ransomware attacks. I tried opening 28 known malicious sites, including URLs contained inside scam emails, and Safe Site blocked all of them. Also, TotalAV includes a data breach test so you can check if your email address has been involved in a data breach in the past. This is primarily an identity protection feature, which tells you how much hackers may know about you. I entered my email address and found that it had been compromised in 2 data breaches. I recommend TotalAV’s top-of-the-line plan called Total Security because it supports up to 6 devices. It includes useful extras like a password vault to secure all your passwords in one place without fearing someone recording your keystrokes and hacking your credentials. You can try TotalAV completely risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. Remove malware with TotalAV

Quick Comparison Table: 2023’s Best AVs to Protect From Hackers

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How I Tested and Ranked the Best AVs for Preventing Hackers

I considered the following features for picking out the best antiviruses for protection against hackers.

Virus detection capabilities — I thoroughly tested each contender’s malware detection capabilities, including real-time protection scores. Real-time protection features — The antiviruses on my list offer features that improve real-time protection, such as a website browser that blocks malicious websites. Powerful firewall — A firewall is crucial to keep you safe from online threats. A hacker can access your computer either by planting malware or internet traffic. A reliable firewall stops all suspicious incoming traffic. Dark web monitoring — This feature is a must-have because it lets you know if your email address has been compromised in the past. All my picks offer dark web monitoring. Money-back guarantee — My picks include a money-back guarantee so you can try out the antivirus without risk.

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1. Can my Mac be hacked?

Yes! Contrary to the popular narrative, Macs are vulnerable to malware and other security threats. While it’s true that macOS is generally safer than Windows, it’s not immune to malware, especially when the number of Mac-specific viruses has been increasing as more and more people join the Apple ecosystem. You need a reliable antivirus to protect your Mac from malware and hackers.

2. Can a hacked computer be fixed?

Most likely, but not always. Sometimes a hack can corrupt your operating system, making your computer unusable. In that case, you may have to reinstall Windows on your device. However, in most cases, hackers infect your PC with malware or ransomware in the hopes of retrieving your sensitive data. You can keep these attacks at bay by using a good antivirus to protect your PC and all its contents. Remove malware with Norton 360

Protect Your Computer From Hackers With a Reliable Antivirus

Your computer can exhibit a range of symptoms after being hacked — from displaying strange pop-ups while you’re connected to the internet to corrupting your operating systems beyond repair. No matter the severity of the symptoms, the purpose of any hack is to obtain your sensitive information. The only way you can protect yourself from hackers is by using a stellar antivirus. After thorough testing, I found Norton 360 to be the best antivirus for protection against hackers. It offers perfect real-time malware detection capabilities and a suite of features (like a powerful firewall and dark web monitoring) that make your PC virtually impenetrable. You can test Norton 360 risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee.

Summary — Best Antivirus Software to Protect Your PC From Hackers in 2023