Being hacked could happen to anyone, read on to learn how to spot a hacked email account and the steps you should be taking next.
With endless email scams circling the internet, the risk of being hacked remains a major concern for many computer users across the globe.
But what are the telltale signs of a compromised inbox? And what are the most effective steps you can take in order to regain control and restore the security of your account?
Let’s dive in and explore this important topic…
How to Spot a Hacked Email Account: Top 3 Signs
While there could be several warning signs to indicate that you may have been hacked, the following, at the very least, should be reason enough to have strong suspicions of foul play:
1. Account Access Denied.
If you can’t access your email – using a password you’re absolutely sure is correct – then it would appear probable that your account has been hacked; the reason being, of course, that the hacker decided to change your password.
2. Contacts Receiving Spam.
Getting spam from strangers is usually tolerable – but getting it from peers always raises suspicion. If a hacker has been sending spam to your account’s contacts, your friends and colleagues may call you up to notify you of the dubious situation.
3. Unrecognized Sent Emails.
Unless the hacker has been cleaning up after himself, a dead giveaway that your account is being used by a third party would be the discovery – if you still have account access – of unrecognized emails in your Sent folder.
How to Recover from a Hacked Email Account: Top 5 Steps
Just because you’ve been hacked doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. You may not be able to resolve all of the potential past damages wrought by the hacker – but there are still several effective, actionable steps remaining for you to take.
1. Change Password & Add 2FA.
Your first task is to reinstate security and also consider bolstering it. By changing your password, you’ll boot out the hacker and regain control of your account; ensure that your new password is strong, consisting of multiple characters.
You should also consider making the lives of future hackers even more difficult by implementing a 2FA (two-factor authentication) security protocol, which will require an additional code to be entered in order to access your email account.
2. Change Other Account Passwords.
Since you’ve probably used your email address to create several dozen other accounts (for services like Facebook, Amazon, PayPal and NetFlix), it’s best to change the passwords for those, too; the reason being that the hacker may have initiated password resets in order to gain access.
On that note, be sure to check out your inbox for any password reset emails (not initiated by you) relating to those accounts – should you spot any, you’ll have a better idea of where the hacker was digging around. Lastly, as we mentioned above, remember to create strong, multiple-character passwords, and to also consider adding 2FA.
3. Notify Contacts/IT Department.
By taking a moment to send out a blanket email to your contacts notifying them of the hack, this will help to prevent your family, friends and colleagues from potentially being hacked, too – they’ll certainly appreciate the heads up!
Remember, if the hacked account in question is work-based, it’s best to notify your IT department pronto; not only can they help to restore your account, they can establish if any other important data was compromised, and also implement tighter security measures.
4. Scan Your Device for Viruses.
Since you’ve already been hacked, there’s an increased chance that your device may be harbouring a virus, which could be silently doing more damage, such as logging keystrokes or stealing personal/work data. Only by running a virus and malware scan can you be sure.
5. Be Cyber Threat Aware.
By keeping up to date with cyber security news, you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding future threats, such as Phishing emails, which could lead to a repeat hacking incident. If you’re a manager, you may wish to also encourage greater awareness among staff by scheduling a cyber security course.
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