What To Do If Your Email Account Has Been Hacked

  • What To Do If Your Email Account Has Been Hacked

    What To Do If Your Email Account Has Been Hacked

    If you’ve experienced the traumatizing moment or realizing that your email was hacked – we understand your panic. Don’t fret. Our team of IT experts can guide you through the process of restoring your security and peace of mind.

    First, change your email password

    This step has two purposes. If you’re lucky, the hacker has not yet changed your password and you can at least stop future hacking. If you find you can no longer log into your account, at least you’re better off knowing this sooner than later.

      

    If you do become locked out, try the “forgot your password” link and answer the security questions (you cannot, of course, use the feature for having a new password emailed to you). This is a potential way of quickly regaining control over your account without needing help from others. However, in some cases, the hackers are savvy enough to change your password recovery questions, leaving you at a loss.

      

    However, even if none of these techniques work, there still might be hope. If your email is managed by an IT department or external IT services company, they may have access to a global administrator’s account and can reset your password for you. This would normally be true if, for example, you were using Office 365 for your email.

       

    Second, change other passwords

    We don’t often think about what is at risk if our accounts get hacked. Unfortunately, it’s common for the average computer user to reuse passwords. A savvy hacker might get one of your passwords for a relatively unimportant account, like a magazine publisher, then try it out on a financial site. Try to determine what passwords might be found in your email and change those accounts, as well.

    Other Post-Hack Tasks

    If you feel a hacker got in but nothing major has changed, and the password/recovery questions are unchanged, it’s possible they made some subtle changes they’re hoping you won’t notice. It goes without saying that you should scan your entire system for malware, but here are some other things to look for:

       

    • Check mail forwarding settings to ensure no unexpected email addresses have been added.
    • Look closely at your email signature. They might have added a link or message advertising their product or service (which could be special “malware” to recover from the virus they installed).
    • Also, check your “reply to” setting. They may have altered it so that when someone hits the button to reply back to you, it goes to the hacker’s mailbox instead.
    • Make sure your out-of-office responder is turned off and not sending spam messages to anyone that tries to email you.

    Another thing hackers might do is search your email with the term “password”, or some other revealing term, like “sign ups”. You should try that yourself and see what comes up. It may be that you used it in the subject or content of a message containing compromising information.

    You should also notify your friends to be on the lookout for suspicious emails purportedly from you. Hackers take advantage of the trust your friends have when they believe they are communicating with you, so let them all know you were hacked.

    Protection Going Forward

    To keep your accounts and information protected, you want to pick strong passwords and not reuse them for multiple accounts.  Following those two rules goes a long way toward preventing a hacker from accessing your account.

    Finally, a good password management application enforces security in subtle ways. These programs are on the lookout for urls that are slightly different from the real thing. They protect you when you’re not paying close attention. Popular password manager programs include Lastpass, Dashlane, and 1Password.

    If you’re concerned about the security of your email or other IT solutions, Analytics Computers can help. Contact our team of security specialists today to schedule a consultation.

     

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