What to Do If Your Email Gets Hacked
The digital world is becoming increasingly interconnected.
Instead of using a unique login and password for every service, the majority of us use one email account as a single sign-in to numerous platforms, including our banking services and social media profiles. This is convenient - both for you and the cybercriminals looking to target your personal details.
So in this increasingly connected world, how can you repel an attack on your email and prevent it from happening again in the future? Read on to figure out what to do if your email has been hacked and, more importantly, the signs to help you detect it in the first place.
How to tell if your email has been hacked
How do you know if your email address has been hacked? Here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Changed password. The most obvious indicator of a hacker attack is the inability to log into your email account with your password.
- Unfamiliar emails in your sent folder. Sometimes attackers don't completely take over your account and lock you out. Instead, they may want to hijack it, to either send spam or find more information about you.
- Random password reset emails. Examine your email box to check if there are password reset emails you haven't requested. If there are, then it might be evidence of an intruder trying to access your banking or shopping information. Regularly check your email box to detect suspicious emails asking for more details and claiming to be from your bank. And, of course, never share your PIN codes or passwords via email or phone.
- Complaints from contacts. If your contacts tell you to stop sending them weird or suspicious emails, this might indicate someone else is using your account (or that you’re not as funny as you think you are).
- Unusual IP addresses, devices, and browsers. Most email services allow you to check your login activity and show the locations, devices, and IP addresses from where someone has logged into your account. If you don’t recognize them, then someone may be using your account without your knowledge or permission. And it better be your ex rather than an unscrupulous hacker.
Now you know the clues to look out for, you can surely answer, “has my email been hacked?” If the answer is yes, then it's time to move towards actions and look for a response for “what to do if my email is hacked”.
How to fix a hacked email: 7 steps to protect yourself
Here's what you need to do to take action against any account intruders.
Step 1: Change the password
What to do when your email is hacked? Start by changing your password. Try logging into your email account. If you experience issues, check if you're using the correct password. If that doesn't help, initiate the password recovery process. If the recovery doesn't work, try to get in touch with the email provider’s customer service team. If you still have access to the hacked account, changing the password is one of many steps you should take to protect yourself.
Step 2: Check your mail settings
Next, examine your email settings to check if anything has been changed. Specifically, check if there are any copies of your messages forwarded to unknown addresses, contacts in your address book you haven't added, or new links in your email signature file. Then update the security questions and answers your email provider typically uses to confirm your identity when you're going through the password recovery process.
Step 3: Set up two-factor authentication
If you weren't using two-factor authentication before, then take this opportunity to start. Most email providers offer this option. Later, when you're trying to log into your account from a new device, the provider will request additional authentication (usually biometric but sometimes as a text) before granting access to the account. Remember: two-factor authentication is one of the most efficient ways of keeping your information safe.
Step 4: Double-check your account recovery information
If you went through the recovery process, double-check your account recovery information. Namely, check email addresses and phone numbers listed as recovery contacts. If the emails or phone numbers look unfamiliar, then change them immediately.
Step 5: Inform your contacts
Hackers may use your email account to send spam, phishing emails or try to steal information from your contacts. Inform everyone in your contact list your account has been hacked and ask them to ignore any suspicious messages sent from your email.
Step 6: Check if other accounts were affected
After that, you need to change the password of your other accounts. Start with the most sensitive ones, such as for your social media profiles or your internet banking, especially if they have the same password as your email. If you experience any issues accessing other accounts connected to the hacked email, try resetting your passwords immediately and contact customer service.
Step 7: Run an antivirus check
Apart from the email, attackers could get access to your device. To see if that’s the case, run an antivirus scan to check your device for malware. Then, make sure your browsers and apps are updated to the latest version. Also, if you have any third-party extensions or apps installed, it's better to remove them, especially if you're not using them anymore. Finally, it might be time to start regularly backing up your files and applications.
How to prevent my email from getting hacked
Dealing with a hacked email account can sometimes be overwhelming. But we hope this step-by-step guide on what you need to do if the email is hacked will be handy and helpful. And once you've put out the fire, it might be a good idea to consider the steps you need to take to prevent any future attacks.
What does it take to protect your account better and mitigate an attack?
First, follow a resource to educate you on the types of suspicious activity and help you spot identity problems early on.
Second, opt in for a digital privacy solution, like Clario, to protect your identity and keep your overall digital experience safe.
You’re more than welcome to check out how Clario identity theft protection works and helps thousands of people like you stay safe online.