Need a procedure for handling a computer hack or other malfunction? Here’s a free one for you!

As I was trying to post to Facebook an announcement about Derek Christian’s webinar on sales last month, I got logged out unexpectedly. When I hit the POST button, all of a sudden I was on the Facebook login page. So I entered my info and hit the LOGIN button, and it happened.

Facebook error message

Now thanks to my extreme nerdism from the early days of computers for the masses, I’m well acquainted with the various diagnostic mechanisms of a single CPU, and Facebook isn’t one of them. So when I saw that Facebook had so kindly managed to scan my computer and detect malware – AND was offering to clean my computer for me at the click of a button – I was, naturally, suspicious. And I called Facebook some names.

Here’s where we confirm that I’m a top level nerd: I got excited that I had caught a hack-in-progress. Not mad. Not frustrated. Not even irritated at the work interruption. Excited. Why? Because it gives me the chance to share this experience with you – and most especially the chance to foil a hacker.

Step 1: Inform my Network Administrator. That happens to be tech junkie Tom Stewart. He advises step 2.

Step 2: Run a full system scan for viruses and malware. Naturally, ours at work are all set to run once a month, and mine came back fine 22 days ago. So off the scan goes – and finds some malware! I know, I’m the only one who’s excited by malware!

My next step isn’t likely to be a common one because, come on, who has two different Facebook profiles? I do: one for friends and family and another for work – which is the one you all can see. But, you see, I couldn’t login to my work account because the hack attempt was blocking me.

This might be the first time I can clearly identify having two separate profiles as an advantage; if I didn’t flip back and forth several times a day, I might have gone days or weeks with malware on my computer and not known it.

Step 3: Login to my personal Facebook profile to see what might be happening on my work profile. Thankfully, I didn’t see anything, couldn’t detect any weird or downright inappropriate posts, so I asked my connections to help me out by checking out what they could see – but not to friend my other profile or click on any links. It’s good to know some other tech junkies who’ll help out!

Step 4: Report final results of the system scan to my Network Administrator – yep, Tom. In this case, definitely malware.

The most important thing that I did during this entire process is pay attention. I know, that sounds so simple, but it’s really not. Paying attention with social media assumes that

  1. I’m on a particular social site often enough to develop a sense of what’s “normal” so that
  2. I am surprised enough to see something “not normal” that I actually recognize it as “not normal.”

That’s really all it means to pay attention – in general. In this case, paying attention netted me two discoveries:

  1. Logging in takes me to my News Feed, not a big box with red highlighting that uses the word malware, and
  2. Facebook isn’t in control of my computer, so telling me that Facebook could clean up my computer with one button click was a BIG RED FLAG.

Thankfully, I have an experienced network administrator on site who knows how to run reliable scans and purge the nasties from my computer or our entire network. If you don’t have someone on staff, you’ll want to search out and establish a good relationship with someone who can. After all, there aren’t many CBOs who can effectively and efficiently run their businesses without a computer, even if all they’re using is a free email account, Google Calendar and MS Office in the early years.

CeCe Mikell is Editor in Chief for Cleaning Business Today, coming from the cleaning industry from a 15-year career as a college professor of communication and business. She also works with several cleaning business owners on business development projects.