Your email account was hacked: Now what?
You’ve received the flood of email from the people in your contact list telling you that your account was hacked. Now what?
First: How did this happen?
Your account could have been compromised by either having a weak or password over-used password, contracting a virus through the internet, or a security breach by a third party. The key is to take swift action to prevent further damage. Criminals have a variety of ways of getting your information and compromising your account. They can:
- Run a program that finds passwords for a given log in until a match is found (this is reason to create strong passwords.)
- Get you to click a link that installs a malicious key-logging program on your computer.
- Obtain your info from a 3rd party (this is why having different passwords for different accounts is key. )Don’t feel embarrassed. Many accounts that are hacked send emails that use profanity and questionable content. This is not necessarily an example of your web browsing history. Unfortunately getting hacked is a more common (though preventable) problem.
Notify your contact list: It is important to notify your contact your contacts because the emails sent from your account could contain malware. A good response to send is “It has been brought to my attention that my account was compromised. If you received a message with subject: “subject here” please do not open the email or click on any links. Simply delete the email and your accounts and devices are safe from any malware. At this time I am unsure how my account was compromised but my machine is being professionally cleaned immediately. Thank you for your support.”
Get your machine professionally cleaned: Simply running anti-virus on your computer is not likely to remove all damage. A professional (like Networks Unlimited) can ensure that your computer is clean and can offer insight into the hack so it does not happen again.
Change all of your passwords: If your account was hacked, your password could have been too weak, was used multiple places for different accounts, or was obtained via key-logging. Whatever the case may be, you need to both strengthen and change your passwords. Here is how to create strong passwords. It is important to change passwords after your computer is fully cleaned in case there was a key-logger program that infected your device. If the key logger was still logging your passwords, and you changed your passwords, the program would then track your new passwords.
Take Future Precautions: Prevent future breaches by creating string and unique passwords for each account. This sounds challenging but there are a variety of tools to help you organize and remember passwords. Practice safe internet surfing and email reading. Do not click on links and advertisements from un-trusted sources. Avoiding malware is an on going battle but you can take steps to strengthen your security.