The initial response when suspecting a computer or network compromise often involves panic. However, if your network has been breached, the actions taken afterward can determine whether it becomes a minor inconvenience or a devastating disaster leading to legal trouble, hefty fines, and business disruptions.

We’ve consulted cybersecurity experts to identify the key signs of a compromised computer and outline five crucial steps to mitigate damage effectively once a breach is detected.

Signs of Compromise:

IBM’s latest cybersecurity report highlights that data breaches often go unnoticed for an average of 277 days. This timeframe may seem unbelievable, especially considering that attacks utilizing malware, viruses, keylogging tools, and similar methods can inflict significant damage rapidly. However, many users fail to recognize the warning signals and only become aware of the attack once irreversible harm has been done.

Several indicators of compromise may initially appear as issues with system performance or outdated software. If experiencing any of the following, promptly contact your IT team for assessment:

  • Slow computer or network performance
  • Frequent freezes or sudden crashes
  • Unexpected pop-ups
  • Locked user accounts
  • Unexplained file changes
  • Abnormal system behavior after shutdown
  • Suspicious account activity

What to Do Next:

If you encounter any of these problems, the actions you take next are significant.

Isolate the Network but DO NOT turn off the device or reboot it:

Take the affected network offline to contain the incident. Avoid rebooting or turning off the compromised device, as this could worsen the situation, especially if malware is involved. Disconnect from the network while leaving the device powered on as you continue with the next steps.

Contact IT Immediately:

Containing the breach before it spreads further throughout your network or inflicts additional damage is crucial. Your IT team possesses the expertise to investigate the issue, identify the root cause, assess the impact, and swiftly mitigate the breach. Avoid attempting to resolve it independently, as running a “system cleanup” or using antivirus software could be ineffective and potentially exacerbate the situation. Instead, seek assistance from qualified experts.

Consult Legal Counsel:

Contact your attorney to address potential legal implications of the breach. Depending on its severity, your attorney may recommend outside legal counsel with expertise in privacy and data security laws to guide you through the process.

Update Passwords and Secure Accounts:

Change passwords for all accounts, especially those containing sensitive financial information. Enable multifactor authentication where possible to enhance security. Prioritize securing accounts with critical data like credit card numbers and Social Security information.

Monitor Bank Accounts:

Financially motivated cyber-attacks often target bank accounts, making thorough monitoring essential during breach mitigation.  Regularly monitor bank accounts and payment processing tools for any unusual activity.

In the event of a cyber-attack, additional steps must be taken, including implementing a PR communications plan and notifying relevant parties like law enforcement. However, the most crucial action to take if a data breach occurs is to isolate the incident and promptly engage a qualified cybersecurity professional. Time is of the essence in such situations.

If you’re seeking a dependable and trustworthy cybersecurity team to monitor your business, begin with a FREE Cyber Security Risk Assessment. These assessments are tailored to comprehensively analyze your network, identifying any vulnerabilities and devising a strategy to address them. It’s far more cost-effective to prevent a cyber-attack than to remedy one so book your assessment today by going to or calling 843-418-4792.