Tell-tale signs your business might have been stealthily hacked

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Often you’ll be the first to know when a cyberattacker has managed to breach your business systems. You may find files are locked, information is missing or even receive a ransom email asking you to pay up to regain access to your data.

As of November 2022, 39% of UK businesses reported that they had experienced a cyber-attack. One in three of these businesses claim they were attacked at least once a week.


However, sometimes the effects of a hack are not immediately obvious, and you may continue to use systems while being completely unaware that they have been compromised. Here are some warning signs that should make you suspicious – and prompt you to report a possible hack to your IT provider.

Spam emails

An unusually high amount of traffic to your email address can be a sign that your email has been shared with hackers, or they have accessed your account. If you suddenly receive a higher volume of spam or phishing emails, be on your guard.

These emails may claim you’ve won a prize or seem to come from an organisation such as a bank or government body in an attempt to get passwords, financial details or personal information.

If you notice an increase in spam or other unusual email activity, ask your IT provider to run a security check. Of course, never disclose any details until you have checked the sender address and confirmed it is genuine.

A slow connection

A slow or weak internet connection could be down to a number of things, such as a problem with your broadband provider. But it could also be a sign that your system is under a denial-of-service attack (DoS). This type of attack makes a device or network unavailable to users by bombarding a system with requests and causing it to overload.

Because these requests use up bandwidth, the first sign of a DoS attack can be an apparent slowdown in connection. It’s not always a sign of malicious activity, but definitely worth checking out.


One or more unusual pop-up windows suddenly appearing can indicate a system vulnerability. Some pop-ups are malware in disguise, and they might appear because of users making accidental downloads, interacting with spam emails, or clicking on suspicious links.

They may appear to be genuine attempts to warn you that there is a system error. Avoid clicking on suspicious pop-ups, even to close them, as that can open a back door for hackers. Contact your IT provider to alert them of the issue.

Your passwords have stopped working

If your passwords for email or other applications have stopped working, it may be a sign that a hacker has got into your IT system and stolen your credentials – possibly including your financial information. They may have changed the passwords or blocked your access to the accounts.

This could lead to a more serious attack or fraud. If possible, change your password to a new phrase and update it frequently. You should also use multi-factor authentication for all passwords or accounts and never use the same password twice. Read more about the benefits here.

Keeping on top of signs that you may have been hacked may help the attack before it gets worse – the earlier it is caught, the better.

If you want to find out more on how to safeguard your business against cyberattacks, get in contact with us today.