We see people who can no longer access their email almost every week. Whether the criminals use it to transmit spam, gain access to your other online accounts, or harass your contacts, it may quickly escalate into a major issue if you don’t act soon!
One of the most efficient cyber attacks is email hacking. Consider how many additional accounts would allow you to change passwords if you simply had access to that email address, and you’ll see why email addresses are so useful to cyber criminals.
It’s usually as easy as guessing your password. Most email services (especially those supplied for free by your Internet service provider) allow users to log in using only their username and password. Even if the crooks have your password, they may be able to reset it by answering security questions. Most people ask straightforward questions with easy-to-find answers, such as “What is the name of your dog?” or “What school did you attend?”
When your email account is hacked, the thieves typically change your password, send spam to your contacts, and delete all of your communications. Here’s what you can do if it happens again:
1. Get your account back.
Because the hacker changed your password to anything else, you won’t be able to access your email. Either that or you simply forgot… Computers do not forget passwords, contrary to popular assumption, but people do!
You can try clicking “Forgot my password” and following the instructions to regain your password. It usually entails answering security questions, receiving a code through phone or email, or contacting technical support.
You may be entirely out of luck if the recovery does not succeed. Even if you are willing to pay, free email services rarely provide technical support.
If you are unable to restore your account, it has now been transferred to SOMEONE ELSE. Everything in your emails and contacts is lost permanently unless you have a backup. You’ll have to start over and create a new account.
2. Make a password change
If you do manage to log in, change your password as soon as possible. Don’t use easy-to-guess passwords or the same password across all of your websites. You may read more about why here.
3. Modify or double-check your account recovery details.
Even if your email hasn’t been hacked, you should do this… The recovery information is used to recover a password that has been forgotten. You won’t be able to do it if your email address or phone number is no longer valid. If the hacker has access to your recovery information, they can use the “lost password” link to reset your password.
Check that the alternate email address and phone number mentioned in your recovery information belong to you and that you have access to them! If your phone number changes, you must update your records as soon as possible.
4. Review “out of office” messages, reply-tos, forwarded communications, and signatures.
Hackers can exploit this to send spam or reroute messages to their own email addresses. It’s possible that your signature contains connections to harmful websites.
5. Examine any associated accounts
This is the most time-consuming and challenging activity. If a hacker has access to your email, he or she can easily change passwords on other websites by clicking on “forgot password” links. Consider how many different accounts you have that use your email address… Banks, government institutions, e-commerce sites, Facebook, and so on.
My advise is to change the passwords on those websites as well, even if it takes a long time.
6. Inform your acquaintances
Tell your contacts not to believe messages from the hacked email after you’ve recovered your account (or even before, if you’re using another account). The hacker could be impersonating you in order to defraud others.
7. Make a backup of your files.
Even if this won’t help you with the compromised email address, you’ll be able to save your critical messages and contacts. If you use online mail (instead of an email client), all of your emails are kept on their servers, and nothing is stored on your computer. If your email is critical, I recommend setting up an email client (such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or EmClient) and backing up your emails on a regular basis.
8. If you’re unsure, seek assistance.
A hacked email account is not something to be taken lightly, and recovering from one without the necessary technical skills and experience may be quite complicated and difficult. The sooner you seek assistance, the greater your chances of regaining access and reducing any potential damage.