Emails hacked by cybercriminals is a gold mine for personal data and access to all your other accounts, considering that we link everything, even our online banking. Recovery from a hack is extremely time sensitive. You’ll have to act fast and carefully if you want to minimize the damage to your identity online and protect those you’re connected with.
It seems impossibly inevitable that we will have our email hacked into, or some other violation of any of the online services upon which we depend. Hackers can use emails, text messages, phone calls, and web pages to pretend to be institutions, family members, or colleagues. To so many without proper knowledge, this may be distressing and confusing. Not to worry. It is possible to take back control, and there are some simple precautions you to employ which can help prevent such from happening.
Let’s start with what you can do if you realise your email has been hacked.
Step 1: Get into your email account.
The first step is to assess the damage. Log on to the website of your email provider, then log into your email account. If the password has been changed, try the password reset process by clicking on the link marked “Forgotten your password?” or something similar. Once you’re into your email account, the very first thing you should do is change your password. Change it to something long and strong, using numbers, multiple cases, and special characters. Avoid using real words.
Step 2: Check your other linked accounts.
Once you’ve changed the password for your email account it is important to change all the passwords of any other email and social media accounts. It is very important you do so fast if you use your email address as the username for those accounts, as the hackers now have both your username and password for those services. Check both your inbox and trash for any password reset emails from other services or accounts linked to your email address not instigated by you. The hacker could have attempted to change your password on other sites, using access to your email to perform password resets.
Step 3: Check for spam.
Some hackers compromise email accounts so they can have access to your contacts. They use your email address to send spam or phishing emails attempting to trick them into thinking you need help, to buy something or into giving up personal information. While it can be difficult to tell if your email account was abused in this way, a quick check of your sent email or your inbox for dodgy replies will help identify anyone who was targeted from your contacts list.
If you find someone who has been contacted by the hacker, let them know that you didn’t send the email through another communication method if you can, or by email if that’s your only contact with them.
Step 4: Sort out your apps.
Once you’ve secured your email account, and dealt with results from the violation, you need to make sure you can access your email address in all your usual places.
If you use an email program, something like Outlook, Windows Mail, Mac Mail or you get your email on a phone or tablet computer, you will have to swap the compromised password on each device for your newly created secure password. Remember to use complicated passwords.
After doing this, you need to take deliberate steps so it doesn’t happen again.
Step 5: Protect yourself for the future.
The risk of having your email account or other services hacked is increasing, but there are some things you can do to prevent it.
• The longer and more complex the password the better. It will take longer for a hacker to break it, making it less likely they will continue trying.
Step 6: Avoid visiting unsecured or funny sites.
Once you visit a site and you’re notified or suspect that it is unprotected, please leave immediately and visit protected sites only. Also, if you get a funny email avoid clicking on the click and alert the person at the other end quickly of your findings.
Step 7: Add another layer of security
In addition to passwords, a different type of security mechanism called two-factor authentication is becoming increasingly mandatory for email and social media users.
It is is very simple. In addition to your username and password you have another form of identification, normally consisting of a code generated and sent to your email or as text message that has to be put in at the time of login and changes every minute or so. It means you keep something the hacker cannot get to, securing your account with an extra layer. Banks have been using them for a while, some giving out card readers that force you to enter your Pin to generate a code to input into your internet banking. This is to prove the importance of protecting your information from the bad guys.
As the world has moved on to more virtual processes, protecting yourself and your community has become imperative
Have we missed any step towards protecting your digital footprints from hackers? Please share with us in the comment section.