Steps to take when your Email is hacked!

You have a hacked email account? Well, most of us use email so often and from so many different machines, that it is possible that it might be hacked one day. Having your privacy invaded is extremely disturbing, but it is possible to control the damage and prevent future hacking attempts. Below, you will find out how to regain control of your account while minimizing future risk.

An infographic displaying 7 tips on what to do when your email account gets hacked.


Let’s Review: Go into your account

Do not panic!  Stay calm.  We do know it’s easier said than done, but yeah! Before you do anything else, evaluate how much damage is done.  Thus start with checking the security settings to revert any possible changes a hacker may have done:  change of alternate email address?, change of phone number?, TFA enabled/disabled?, …. Log into your email account; if the hacker changed the password, click the “Forgot Password?” link or its equivalent. Once you have access to your account, change your password right away. Make sure to avoid bad password habits.

Assess damage to other accounts

Once you change your email password, you should do the same with all other accounts that share the same password. Also, make sure to repeat the same steps on any other account remotely linked (external account, …) with the compromised account. Check your ‘inbox’ and ‘trash’ folder for password resetting emails that you didn’t request; as they indicate the attempts that a hacker has already made to access other accounts.

Compromised bank account

If one of the compromised accounts was your bank account, then keep an eye for any illegal transaction (activating SMS alerts for transactions would be a good measure here). If you detect any malicious activity, contact your bank immediately and ask them to freeze your account (until things get under control).

Check for sent spam

Some hackers hack email accounts to launch spam attacks.  They generally use your contacts list, and send phishing or spam emails with your email address as sender address.  Their objective is to trick your friends into providing personal information. It can be hard to tell if your account was used in this way, but checking your inbox for replies can help you determine if your contacts were targeted. If you do find spam, let the person know that you didn’t send the email and that your account was compromised.

Check your apps

Once you secured your hacked email account again and you dealt with the consequences of the hacking attempt, ensure yourself that you can still access your account via the usual channels. If you use Windows Mail, Outlook or another similar program, you’ll have to change the passwords on those apps. Every program is different, but for most, you’ll have to get into the “Settings” menu to make the change.

Protect yourself from further hacked email intrusions

The risk of email hacking is increasing, but there are preventive steps you can take. Choosing a strong password is one of the easiest ways to safeguard your account; generally speaking, the longer the password, the more secure it is. Use a mix of cases, characters and numbers to increase the strength and complexity of your password, and don’t use real words. Above all, NEVER use the same password across multiple sites. Long, complicated passwords can be hard to remember and services such as KeePass and LastPass can help you store your passwords securely.

Add extra layers of security

Along with strong passwords, use two-factor authentication to secure email and other accounts. In addition always keep your account, data, and device secure. Maintaining a backup will help you in recovering your data from hacked email or any other data compromise and loss.

You can also file a report at CyberCops, FBI, Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Furthermore, if your data leaked online and you are in the European Union, take advantage of the “right to be forgotten” law. Also contact your local police department if needed.

Mailfence is a secure and private email service. Follow our Email security and privacy awareness course for more details on how to better protect yourself from today’s emerging cyber-threats!

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– Mailfence Team

Avatar for M Salman Nadeem

M Salman Nadeem

Information Security Analyst - Security Team | Mailfence

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