Has Your Email Been Hacked? Here Is What You Need to Do
You probably don’t realise that your email address has been hacked till one of your friends tells you, by which time you have already sent dozens of emails to friends, family members, and colleagues a link to a “pretty cool video” that they “must watch now!” It is embarrassing and awkward. You will ask yourself, “Why me?”
If you are ever unfortunate enough to be the victim of hacking, use this guide. The hope is if you follow all the steps properly, you will never have to send a “sorry all, my email was hacked” message again. Here is how to deal with a email hacking.
1. Try to Regain the Access
Hackers may not always modify your email address’s password. In most of the scenarios, they simply sign in, send a bunch of emails to the people in your address book, and move on to the next victim.
Some hackers, however, will change the password to keep you out. In such case, the first thing to do is regaining access to your account. Make use of the “Lost your password?” link available on the login screen to reset the password and get access to your account. You have to either answer a few security questions or use a backup email address.
2. Don’t Use Easy Passwords
Despite whether the hacker changed your email password, it’s the time to choose one new. Hard-to-crack passwords involve using several characters–upper and lower case letters, special symbols, and even spaces. You may also consider using a good password manager, such as LastPass, KeePass, or Dashlane in order to store your passwords securely and generate strong passwords when required.
3. Sign out of Active Logins
Before you go further, take a look at your active logins to ensure no one is currently using your account. Once you change your password, it is usually not a problem, but this is a good thing to do anyhow, especially when you are logged in from a public computer.
Within Gmail, you will find active logins by clicking “Details” at the bottom right corner of your main screen, right below “Last account activity”. If you find any suspicious logins, use the link provided to sign them out. Yahoo Mail also lets you see active sessions, but it does not give an option to sign them out. Outlook.com does not provide the active-logins feature yet.
4. Check the Email Settings
In your email account settings, ensure the hacker has not changed any settings that may give him easy access to the account in the future. For example, check that your security questions and answers are not modified and the secondary (recovery) email is still the same. Also ensure that the hacker hasn’t introduced any email forwarding rules, so that any email you receive gets forwarded to his account.
5. Reconfigure Email on Other Devices You Have
Many people use not only a PC but also other devices such as a smartphone and tablet to check their mail. After changing your email password, make sure you go into those smartphone and tablet settings to save your new password, so that your email arrives as usual.
6. Let Your Friends and Family Know
Hackers often use your email address to send malicious programs by emailing all your contacts. You can send a warning message to your friends and family members letting them know that if they receive any suspicious email from you, they should delete it.
7. Implement Two-Step Authentication
If your email has been hacked, it is probably true that you have not enabled two-factor authentication, which is probably the best line of defense against hacking. When it is enabled, logging into your email account requires an additional step. In two-factor authentication, after you type in your password, an authentication code is sent to your phone, which you have to enter in the next screen. You need to do this only once for “recognized” computers and devices, and this means unless a hacker gains control of your phone, there is no way he can hack your account–even if he knows your password.
8. Don’t Recycle Your Passwords
Now is the time you realise why security experts incessantly recommend against recycling your passwords. If you use your email account’s password for other services (such as Facebook), a hacker who got your email password can easily find out which other accounts you own and use the password to try to access them. If you are a password recycler, immediately change your password on those other services too.
9. Know About and Avoid Phishing Traps
Hackers use many varying tactics making it quite difficult to figure out how exactly you fell victim to email hacking. One of the most common and successful methods is phishing. In this, the hacker creates a rogue web page that closely mimics your email service and fools you into providing your user name and password. You should learn all the phishing tactics used by hackers and avoid them.
10. Perform a Malware Scan
Whether the hacker installed malware to get access to your account or a piece of malware was installed as a result of you opening a malicious email link, now is a good time to run a full malware scan. There are several on-demand scanners available, such as Malwarebytes, Avast, and BitDefender.
It’s often difficult to deal with a hacked account. But if you are fortunate enough, you can get your account back with minimal effort. Make sure you follow every step outlined in this article.