Hello. I'll admit upfront that I'm a pretty paranoid person, medically. No stranger to computers at all, but still paranoid about them, especially when it comes to hacking and compromising of sensitive data. This isn't so much a request for help with symptoms, but a question as to what those symptoms are. I realize it might seem silly to some or ridiculous to think of, but it'll give me peace of mind to have this answered at long last.
I got my home network set up not too long ago, and once it was all done, I never really checked my equipment after that. I never thought I had the need to, which wasn't smart on my part. Recently, however, I got the unshakable feeling that something was wrong, or that I was being monitored, even with no symptoms. I've got plenty of AV and AM protection and a strict firewall, and I never click suspicious links or download suspicious files. I did hear, however, that determined hackers can use WiFi itself to do nasty things to your computer and breach it.
Yesterday my smartphone, an iPhone 4, ran out of battery power (as they tend to do), and after recharging it, I noticed I couldn't connect to my WiFi all of a sudden. Not sure if that ever happened, I reset its network settings, re-entered my PSK, and all was well. However, this ticked my "Oh God, something horrible's happening" feeling, and I checked my modem itself.
I obviously don't give out my PSK to people and have never had any physical modem issues, but I did notice that the Firewall options were all turned off. The make/model is an Arris Netgear from Time Warner Cable. My security setting is WPA2-PSK. As I never really bothered checking the settings after the technician set it up, I don't know if its firewall is off by default, if he turned it off, or if someone else turned it off. I changed the PSK just to be on the safe side and enabled the firewall.
And that's where I am today. Very worried and on-edge about this. Yesterday I was installing a fresh OS (8.1) into my PC, and noticed a few different things that might be unrelated. GWX.exe, the Windows 10 updating app, was installed, even though I opted out of upgrading. This had never appeared on my desktop before (the last time I'd clean-installed was on a new HDD back in October). There was also an odd "Checking your Internet Connection..." message during the OS installation, a message I'd also never seen before. My personal PC, custom-built, uses an Intel Ethernet Wired Connection. A work PC I have, a Dell, uses a Wireless Connection. On a sidenote, Windows Updates downloaded pretty darn fast on this new OS. Installed at its usual slow pace, but downloaded faster than I'd seen before. Leave it to me to associate a fast download with problems. Nevertheless, all virus scans, Malwarebytes scans, cmd prompt commands like SFC resulted in no issues being found.
Like I said, I do suffer from medical issues resulting in heightened anxiety and paranoia, and all of this might sound crazy to some - it's embarassing to post, really, but I have no idea who else to turn to or very computer savvy friends. I don't want to overthink things, but I also don't want to pass off potential serious problems as baseless worry. My question in all of this is basically:
What are the symptoms of a breached or compromised router/modem/computer or WiFi connection? Can attackers use a compromised router /modem/computeror WiFi connection to harm my computer in any way? Do my symptoms sound at all like those associated with an attack or compromised router/modem/computer/WiFi connection? If so, what can I do to resolve these issues and resecure my computer?
I deeply appreciate any answers or help I get on this. I'd just like to rest easy for a while. I apologize if this is in the wrong section.
Edited by Eorlingas, 21 November 2015 - 02:03 PM.