What to do if your email is hacked

Steps to take to help you recover.

Your email is not secure. You have a strong password; maybe you have back-up like two-step authentication or security questions, but your email is not 100% secure. It is good to build fences for online security, but sometimes, malicious forces still figure out how to open them up or even knock them down. In case you missed it, Yahoo announced a data breach this week that is associated with at least 500 million accounts. Let that sink in for a minute… 500 million. That’s more people than the population of the United States. What should you do if you have a Yahoo account that’s been hacked? What should you do if you realize your email account has been compromised? Here are some steps to take if your email is or you think it may be hacked:

1. Update your password. Change your password immediately. Make it a strong and complex password. Figure out a method that works for you to remember your complex password. For example, [email protected] Also, ensure you are using different passwords for different accounts. If you don’t, you could allow access to all of your other accounts to individuals with malicious intentions.

2. Report it. Let your email service provider know that you believe your account is compromised so they can provide you with assistance to resolve it.

3. Build fences. Whenever available, add two-step authentication, security questions and any other security option provided by your email service provider. These fences provide an added layer of protection.

4. Review your account settings. Check your account settings (in Yahoo, it’s a gear icon) to see if automatic email forwarding is enabled. Hackers will occasionally forward your emails to other accounts.

5. Let your contacts know. If you are certain a hack occurred, let your contacts know that they may have received a suspicious email from your account and that it was hacked. Also advise them that you are working to resolve the situation.

6. Run a scan. Start your antivirus software and run a malware scan of your computer. Don’t have antivirus software? You can download Avast or AVG for free online.

7. Stay aware. You cannot control if your email service provider’s system is hacked, but you can control whether or not you give away your information online. Pay attention to the website addresses in your browser. Look for the secure lock when entering confidential information, and be wary of malicious sites. That social survey link that seems harmless, but requires your login information, could deliver your username and password to a cybercriminal.

Has your email ever been hacked? What happened and how did you respond? Tell me about it in the comments below, on Twitter @nerdsquawk or via email at [email protected].


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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