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[Help] How easy is it to hack into a private Desktop? Like a neighbor?

Someone's asking for help!

imagedotjpeg

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
19
Points
3
I've noticed my computer is acting different compared to how it was when i first bought it several months ago. It's my first desktop so I leave it on all the time, I just always sign out.

The only bad things I've done is download Custom Content for Sims 4, I play Poke MMO (also downloaded from a website), and maybe downloaded some images from google.
Could it be a hacker, a noisy neighbor-oony, or is my computer perfectly fine and I'm just paranoid?
I did a full scan last night, and nothing came up; but I do admit I don't scan enough manually. I have my internet connected to my computer through a wire. Sorry, I'm not very tech savvy, but I would love to learn!

Example: Last night after I logged off, my computer's fan started getting really loud as if I had a bunch of apps open while listening to music. Way out of the usual for me. When ever the fan turns on, its usually because of a live stream I'm watching.
 

Mart

Chaos Alchemist
Archivist
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
132
Points
43
Oh come on, leaving your computer on all the time and you're surprised it's starting to struggle? Why would you even do that? You're just needlessly wasting power (racking up your electricity bill at the same time) and of course your system is going to tire out after keeping it on for literal months without a proper shut down.
It does sound like you're just being a paranoid for no reason to be honest. Hacking itself would have nothing to do with your system acting any different. Generally, if your storage isn't encrypted it would be as easy as unplugging it from your system and plugging it into another system, that's not really "hacking". Why would your neighbor want to hack your pc in the first place?
 

SkullTraill

Glorious Light of Knowledge and Power
Staff member
Custodian
Librarian
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
Messages
157
Points
43
Ok, first off, since you said you're not too tech savvy, I want to clear up some misconceptions; it's in fact not a bad thing to leave your computer on constantly. In fact, on balance it's actually better to do so in most cases. Computer's aren't living organisms, they do not "tire out". That being said there can be some issues, so let me summarise below:

Benefits of leaving computer on 24/7:
  • Never have to pait for power up
  • Power cycling (especially power up) is one of the leading causes for wear and tear on computers. The power spike from boot will eventually degrade and cause failures in small electronics in various components of your PC system
Potential problems with leaving your computer on 24/7:
  • If you have a mechanical hard drive (which you probably do), the constant spinning will wear it out faster. This only really applies to consumer hard drives/budget ones. If you have a really good one or a server-grade one this wont be a problem
  • Wastes electricity, may or may not be of concern to you
  • If you do not have proper cooling, can cause the CPU and other processors to overheat, but this is more or less a cooling issue, not to do with leaving the PC on. It can happen in 5 minutes or 5 days, and will usually cause complete failure, or serious performance throttling and you'd definitely notice that
  • RAM is never reset, so on OSes like Windows, this can cause errors to build up gradually from stuff like memory leaks, software with poor garbage collection (which is a lot of windows software). Now this sometimes does cause strange behavious as you describe
My recommendation is to keep your PC on, but at least once every week, power cycle it to flush the RAM and start fresh.

In your case specifically, it's hard to tell exactly what's wrong without more details obviously. Just one example of how your fan turns on at night is not enough to diagnose anything.

Here's a list of things it could be:
  • Could be a virus/malware that has been installed on your PC that springs to action once you have signed out... This usually doesn't cause the fans to work because spyware doesn't generally use a lot of resources (or else it would be easily detected). However, it could be a botnet designed to mine bitcoin (or other cryptocurrency) when you are away from your PC. This is becoming an increasingly popular form of malware and it would cause your fans to start spinning when your PC is otherwise idle.
  • Could just be your PC overheating, especially since it's summer-ish now.
  • Maybe it's not even overheating, maybe it's nothing, because computer fans do come on and off on their own periodically. It could just be coincidence that it happens right as you sign out.
I'd need a lot more info to help you properly, such as:
  • What scanner are you using to do these scans
  • What applications are running in the background
  • Your process list
  • What other sorts of issues you face that make you think you've been hacked
But, I think, first you should just take these few steps to see if they help:
  • Shut down your PC, wait 5 minutes, and start it up again
  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager, slick the process tab to list processes and sort it by CPU usage and Memory usage (by clicking on the 'CPU' and 'Memory' headings at the top of the list. Note down what processes are using the most resources
  • Probably more that I can't think of right now
There are many things to do if you suspect being hacked, not just virus scanning, there are other scanners and detectors that aren't anti-virus software, but instead specialist tools. However these require technical knowledge to know and identify what it's detecting so that you don't end up deleting vital system files accidentally... so I can't recommend them to you. So far you haven't said anything that would make me suspect you're being hacked. As Mart says maybe you're just a little paranoid.

However, if you have been hacked, the easiest and simplest solution I could give you (as a non technical person) would be to simply format the hard disk, reinstall windows and keep windows updated (especially the security patches). Because if your windows is not up to date with the updates/security patches, then it's actually pretty easy to hack a computer if you're on the same network (for example, I know you said you connect to the internet via a wire, but if that router also has a wifi and someone joins it they are on the same network as you and can easily run windows exploits on you if your copy of windows is not up to date), or if someone had physical access to your computer, or if you've downloaded and run files from an untrustworthy source, which in this day and age happens a lot.

Long story short, we don't have enough info to really know if you were hacked. Is it possible, yes, but maybe instead of panicking the best option is to just restart your PC and we'll go from there.
 

imagedotjpeg

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
19
Points
3
Oh come on, leaving your computer on all the time and you're surprised it's starting to struggle? Why would you even do that? You're just needlessly wasting power (racking up your electricity bill at the same time) and of course your system is going to tire out after keeping it on for literal months without a proper shut down.
It does sound like you're just being a paranoid for no reason to be honest. Hacking itself would have nothing to do with your system acting any different. Generally, if your storage isn't encrypted it would be as easy as unplugging it from your system and plugging it into another system, that's not really "hacking". Why would your neighbor want to hack your pc in the first place?

When I read y'alls messages, I updated and turned off my computer as soon as I could.

I only grew up with a computer when I was 11 and we had it for about a year. I didn't learn proper Computer etiquette until recently. I assumed they stayed on 24/7 because the computer labs in high school had them on all the time.

I thought I was hacked because my laptop has been hacked before, over my college's shit wifi. These group of guys were poking fun at me so I flicked the main guy off. This happened while I was at the library; When I got home, I did a scan and it reported that they downloaded documents and pictures from my device and posted them on websites like "taiwan . com".
 

imagedotjpeg

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
19
Points
3
Ok, first off, since you said you're not too tech savvy, I want to clear up some misconceptions; it's in fact not a bad thing to leave your computer on constantly. In fact, on balance it's actually better to do so in most cases. Computer's aren't living organisms, they do not "tire out". That being said there can be some issues, so let me summarise below: ...

Thank y'all so much! I'll make sure to learn more about computers and not just assume I am doing things right without proof.

Can I DM you about the information you need?
What I can say about being hacked is someone actually did in 2019.
 

SkullTraill

Glorious Light of Knowledge and Power
Staff member
Custodian
Librarian
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
Messages
157
Points
43
When I read y'alls messages, I updated and turned off my computer as soon as I could.

I only grew up with a computer when I was 11 and we had it for about a year. I didn't learn proper Computer etiquette until recently. I assumed they stayed on 24/7 because the computer labs in high school had them on all the time.

I thought I was hacked because my laptop has been hacked before, over my college's shit wifi. These group of guys were poking fun at me so I flicked the main guy off. This happened while I was at the library; When I got home, I did a scan and it reported that they downloaded documents and pictures from my device and posted them on websites like "taiwan . com".
You don't have to worry, all that matters is that you're willing to learn. Everyone's different.
 
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