How worried should I be that my system has been compromised?
November 8, 2013 8:10 PM   Subscribe

A couple of days ago I clicked a legit-looking result from a Google search and got to a page of hackery-looking type saying that my system now belonged to somebody else. I backed away fast, but tried it again out of curiosity and the same thing happened. I didn't cap the screen and now I can't find the page, but can somebody hijack my computer (Mac running Safari this week for some reason) just because I clicked a link? This might be a laughable question, but since this has never happened to me before I don't know how seriously to take it!
posted by Camofrog to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The default answer, I believe, is for you to read, print out, read again, and follow carefully the instructions on deezil's profile.
posted by carsonb at 8:14 PM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

The OP is using a Mac, so deezil's exhaustive instructions won't be useful here.

It's unlikely anything bad happened--most malware targets Windows--but don't push your luck by trying a third time to get a screencap!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:18 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

This blogpost of mine is old but if you use the free software I listed in number 3 to test for viruses & trojans you will probably be good.

Sorry on my phone so can't link properly.
posted by wildflower at 9:29 PM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Usually the answer is "No, they can't actually do that." But they can bluff less sophisticated users into thinking they did, and shake them down for protection money.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:53 PM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's not a dumb question; a hostile web page absolutely can hijack a Mac running Safari. The Flashback botnet is one such example, last year it infected 500,000+ Macs via the Java plugin in Safari.

The good news is Mac-targeted malware is very rare and Macs have good defenses that make it harder for attackers to get in. It's much more likely that the page you visited was just a joke or some sort of poorly constructed scam. If you have no other evidence your Mac is behaving strangely I'd not worry about it. (Things to look for: unexplained network traffic, processes, or CPU usage).
posted by Nelson at 8:48 AM on November 9, 2013

a page of hackery-looking type saying that my system now belonged to somebody else

It's fairly common for hackers to deface websites like this. (example screenshot) The "your system" that they're bragging about having hacked is probably just referring to the web server itself, not anyone who visits it.

Now, it's possible that the attackers were trying to use the site as a vector to spread malware further, but if that was their goal, why would they change the layout and tip you off?
posted by teraflop at 5:51 PM on November 9, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. Everything seems to be running normally, so I'll just hope I got lucky this time.
posted by Camofrog at 1:37 PM on November 11, 2013

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