Unfortunately, as cyber attacks become more sophisticated, more and more people are being hacked through email. When you are hacked, cyber criminals typically gain access to your username and password, which they then use to log into the accounts you have for various services. They can then access personal information such as your social security number or credit card details. They can also install viruses in your computer system or on your phone.
How can I tell if I've been hacked?
If your email has been hacked, you'll usually find a number of strange things happening. A program might pop up that you didn't install yourself, or your webcam might suddenly turn itself on. You may also find that programs or files have been deleted. You may also suddenly be unable to log in to an account, even though you know you haven't forgotten your password.
If you have any doubts that your email has been hacked, just to be on the safe side, go to the website https://www.haveibeenpwned.com and check if your information has been leaked. You can do this by looking up your email. If your email has been hacked, the website will show what information has been leaked.
You have a hacked email - what do you do?
If your email has been hacked, it is important that you act immediately. A hacked email can be exploited by the hacker very quickly. We advise you to do the following:
Change your password
You should change your password for the account that the cybercriminals now have access to as soon as possible. If you use the same password for several accounts, they should also be changed. Remember not to use the same password for more than one account and that your password should be long and complex.
Contact your online services
If it is your credit card details that have been hacked, contact your bank and inform them that you have had a data leak. They can help you protect your money. In addition, it may also be a good idea to contact your other payment-based services, such as streaming services.
Keep an eye on your account
Be aware; anomalies on the account(s) that have been hacked indicate that hackers are exploiting your personal information. Contact the companies where you have the accounts and tell them about it.
Gain control of your account
It is possible that hackers change your password for the hacked account, blocking your access to the account. You can contact the company where you have your account and get instructions on how to regain control.
Check if your emails are being forwarded
While hackers have access to your email address, they may have carried out what is called mail hacking. Mail hacking allows hackers to access all your contacts and forward emails to them. These emails will typically contain unwanted programs, such as malware, that can infect your contacts' computer systems. So check if your emails are being forwarded and let your contacts know that you have been hacked.
Scan your computer system
It is possible that a virus or malware has been installed on your computer while the hacker has had access to it. Run your antivirus software to get a full system scan. It is important to always have an up-to-date virus program and to run a full system scan once in a while. It's also a good idea to scan your smartphone and tablet with an antivirus program to see if the hacker has sniffed out information from multiple platforms.
Enhance your security
You can increase your online protection by turning on two-step verification where possible. Two-step verification makes your accounts extra secure, as you need both your password and a sent password on your mobile phone to log in to the accounts.
Start over with full protection
If you've had a data breach once, you're more likely to fall victim to it again. So to be on the safe side, start from scratch with a new computer and a new email address. By getting a new computer, you ensure that it is free of malware.
Of course, when you create a new email account, don't use the same password, but change both your username and password so that they are significantly different and stronger than the old ones.
Change all passwords - and watch your SMS messages
It's a good idea to change usernames and passwords for all your services and apps, it makes it much harder for hackers to access your accounts. It also protects your mobile, as most people use many of the same apps or websites on all their devices. Of course, you also need to install a good antivirus program on all your devices.
It is important to remember that your mobile can also be hacked, for example through phishing SMS messages, also known as smishing. Therefore, you should be as careful when using your phone as you are when using your computer.
Sofie Meyer is a copywriter and phishing aficionado here at Moxso. She has a master´s degree in Danish and a great interest in cybercrime, which resulted in a master thesis project on phishing.