Now that you’ve determined if your email has been hacked, what do you do? You definitely shouldn’t ignore it. You don’t have to be a celebrity to have valuable information in your email that hackers want. They aren’t looking for gossip – they want your data. Some will keep passwords or logins to government departments or large companies they may want to ’target’ to hack them. But the more sophisticated ones will sell your details including name, telephone, email address, and credit card details and cash in on The Dark Web.
Here’s what to do to clean up the mess the hackers left behind.
- Change your Password
If you still have access to your account, change your password immediately. Always use at least 8-10 characters with a variety of upper and lower case and throw in some symbols and numbers. Avoid using any information a hacker could easily find, like maiden name, address, kids’ names, birthdays, pets’ names, etc.
- Report It To Your Email Provider
Most likely, your email provider has seen this type of hack before and may be able to give you more details about the nature and source of the attack. They may also have specific tools to help you protect your information and get you up and running. If your work email was hacked, also inform your IT professionals for additional guidance.
- Inform Your Email Contacts
Many email hackers will send emails to your contacts, posing as you, with links to then remotely hack your friends as well. Let your contacts know they should not open any emails or click any links from you that look suspicious. Also, if they did open anything from you, encourage them to check their own accounts for hacking.
- Change your Security Question
It’s not enough to just change your password. If your email provider uses security questions, change those as well. Pick the most obscure questions, with answers that only you would know. Or better yet, come up with lies for the questions (as long as you remember them). If hackers get access to your answers to the questions you already had associated with your account, they could use them to log into other accounts.
- Add Multi-Factor Authentication
If your provider has the option, add multi-factor authentication, which requires use of a one-time code to log in. It does add another step to your login, but you’ll be extra protected.
- Check Your Email Settings
Hackers might have changed your email settings so they get a copy of your messages forwarded to them. Look to make sure there’s nothing suspicious hidden in your settings. Don’t forget to check your email signature, ‘reply to’ email address, and your sent folder. Eliminate any weird links or email accounts you don’t recognize.
- Scan Your Computer for Malware and Viruses
Your hackers may have gained access to your entire computer. Scan your computer for any viruses, and get them taken care of as soon as possible. You may need to take your computer in to a repair shop so they can remove any that might be present.
- Change Other Passwords
First, update any accounts that use the same password as your previous email account. This includes social media, banking, Amazon, Netflix, wherever you commonly login. Then, think about any other accounts associated with your email address where you may have sent recent “change password” requests, or have passwords that were shared in your email. Change those accounts as well.
- Consider Creating a New Email
If you continue to get hacked, and your email provider isn’t helping, you might need to start a new account, but don’t delete your old account! Hackers could then recreate the account and spoof the old account causing unknown issues for yourself.
- Monitor Your Information
The hacker may have been able to access your Social Security Number or other pieces of valuable personal information from your email. If this is the case, you need to monitor your credit and other financial accounts for suspicious activity. Check your credit report through the free sites to make sure nothing suddenly changes. You may want to contact the fraud department of these financial institutions or other organizations to let them know that you were hacked to ensure that they investigate and protect you from further issues.
Read part 3 of our series to learn how to protect yourself from further email hacks.