Your email has been hacked, what would you do? In 2017, over 700 million email addresses (and passwords) were leaked publicly courtesy of a misconfigured spambot (program designed to collect email addresses). Data breaches are alarmingly common and can wreak havoc on your organization. An email statistics report in 2015 indicated that the number of worldwide email users is set to reach almost 3 billion by 2019. Also predicting that users receive 96 messages per day.
The growth of email, both personal and professional has now made it an easy target for hackers. Hacked email accounts could lead to more serious problems, such as identity theft, privacy intrusions, which could affect your finances, reputation and possibly the company you work for. However, there are preventative measures you can take to boost protection for your email accounts.
10 Steps to Take if Your Email Account Has Been Hacked
Change Your Password
This should be the first thing you should do so that hackers cannot get back into your email account. Change your email account password to a strong password that is not related to your prior password. Ensure it does not contain strings of repeated characters or numbers. Stay away from passwords that are tied to your name, birthday, or similar personal statistics since hackers can easily access this information. Try using meaningful sentences as the basis of your new password. Always use 8-10 characters with a variety of upper and lower case. Throw in some symbols and numbers. Be sure to change any other accounts with the same password. Hackers are onto us, they know we tend to use the same passwords for almost everything.
Change Security Questions
Although email passwords are usually the attack route, it’s possible that hackers broke into your account after answering your security questions. Many people choose the same answer for generic security questions, making it easier for hackers to get in. In 2014, Yahoo had 500 million email accounts hacked, not only were the passwords stolen by the security questions were too.
Commit to Multi Factor Authentication
Having multi-factor authentication is key. Including using secondary email addresses or text messages, since security questions are not enough. By enabling this, you typically receive a onetime use code to login. This would be sent to your mobile phone.
Advise Your Contacts
Hackers’ goal when getting into an email account is to gain access to your address book that would link them to other people’s sensitive information. When attackers have control of your email account, they can send dozens of malware emails to everyone you know.
Check Email Settings
Be sure to indicate whether hackers modified email settings so that a copy of every email you receive is automatically forwarded to them. Check your email account signature to ensure no spam has been added and that the ‘reply to’ email address is yours. Hackers have been known to create an email address that looks like yours so when someone replies it goes directly to them.
Contact email account provider and report the hack. This is important because it helps providers track scam-based behavior. Your email provider may be able to give some details about the origin or nature of the attack. Hackers are likely to make personal contact and convince you to share personal details before they start defrauding accounts.
Contact Credit Agencies
The reach of a hacker is greater than you know, it is important to ask credit reporting agencies to monitor accounts in the months after a hack. It Is also critical to change passwords with payment-based accounts such as Amazon, Netflix, PayPal, credit card companies, to prevent hackers from compromising those accounts as well.
Scan Your Computer for Malware and Viruses
Run antivirus scans to ensure attackers aren’t finding their way throughout all your devices (laptop, tablets, cellphones). Comprehensive security software will provide a digital shield for your online life. Ensure you have an anti-malware program in place. Jolera provides multiple products that can help, including Manage I.T.
Create a New Email Address
Emails are a vital part of online identity and being proactive and addressing any threats is essential for your digital reputation. If you are becoming a regular victim of email hacking and your email provider isn’t mitigating the amount of spam you are receiving, consider starting from scratch. Experts warn against deleting email accounts as most email providers recycle your old email addresses. This may mean a hacker could spam every site they find with ‘forgot my password’ requests and try to impersonate you. This can result in identity theft.
Take steps to secure the cloud and upgrade to full-time security protection that blocks new, unknown threats and actively safeguards your online actions. Policies and procedures must be clear and strictly enforced to ensure the security of the enterprises corporate data. Jolera’s Secure I.T. will help protect and mitigate present and future risks.