Help! My email has been hacked, what do I do!

Answer: Stay calm. Recovering from a hacking is time sensitive. As our emails connect us to essentially everything online and contains our personal information, it is important to move quickly and follow these five steps to minimize the damage.

Why do Hackers go After Email Accounts?

I bet most of us don’t use a unique login and password for each service we use. Chances are we use our primary email and the same password for every web resource, including banking, online shopping, social media, etc.

Sure, it’s convenient to have a single-entry point to for all online purposes. But unfortunately, that makes it even easier for cybercriminals to hijack our entire digital lives. Put it this way — if a hacker was able to gain access to your email, they’d be able to gain access to other online accounts, contacts, banking information, and more.

How do I Know if My Email Has Been Hacked?

You’ve probably realized by now how valuable your email accounts are to hackers. Here are some warning signs to look out for if you think your email has been compromised:

  • Unable to log into your email: One of the biggest warning signs is that you’re unable to log into your email because the hacker has changed your password.
  • Complaints from contacts: Hackers often spread mass emails to all contacts containing attachments/links infected with malware. If someone notifies you of suspicious emails being sent from your account, there is a good chance your email has been hacked.
  • Unusual IP addresses, locations and devices: Emails usually allow you to view your login activity. If you notice strange IP addresses, locations, or devices that don’t belong to you, your email may have been hacked.

What do I do if My Email Has Been Hacked?

Unfortunately, simply changing your password is not good enough. It is important to be sure that the hacker hasn’t set up methods of getting back into your account once they have been caught. Here are five steps to follow in order to minimize damage and protect yourself against future attacks:

  1. Change your password: Choose a unique password that is significantly different from your old one and avoid personal information such as your name and birthday.
  2. Notify your contacts: Contacts are most likely to open an email and click any links it may contain if the email looks like it is coming from you. Prevent malware from spreading by reaching out to your contacts and letting them know your email has been compromised.
  3. Check your device for malware and viruses: If your device has been hacked, chances are there could be traces of malware. Secure yourself from hacks by downloading software that will give you an extra layer of protection for future attacks.
  4. Check your other accounts: One hack can lead to another. If a hacker was able to access your email, they may have obtained other information allowing them to gain access to other accounts you have. Review your other accounts and keep an eye out for any unusual activity you may come across.
  5. Report the hack: Contact your email provider and report the hack. By reporting hacks, you are not only protecting yourself and others from future threats, but you are also helping your provider improve their security.

Dealing with a hacked email can be stressful. Keep yourself from being targeted by following this five step guide and using Netsweeper’s safeguarding filters that can help protect accounts and sensitive data from hacks, malware and any other risky content.

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