You’ve Been Hacked: ITC Security’s Guide to Dealing with an Intruder in Your Email

Unfortunately for us, getting hacked is almost guaranteed to happen at some point in our digital lives. It is at best annoying, and at worst potentially catastrophic, depending on the type of hack and the information violated. But panic not – ITC Security is here to help minimise collateral damage by giving you some insight into dealing with the situation, should it arise.

How to Spot a Hack…

The first thing you need to know is how to detect your email being hacked into. There are a number of signs to look out for, from your contacts being sent large doses of spam from your address, or your own inbox is flooded with ‘bounced’ emails from unknown senders. You may even find yourself locked out of your account, or that its settings have been changed. Sometimes the provider may also temporarily prevent you from using your account until the problem is sorted.

Step 1: Use, update and\or upgrade your security software

Before you continue to deal with any password resets or set up new accounts, it is crucial that you can be sure your PC or Mac is free from any malware. Use your anti-virus and anti-malware software to run a full scan. If you have any doubt of your computer’s security then do the following on one that you know to be secure.

Step 2: Change your password

If you are still able to get into your account then you should immediately reset your password to something far more secure, and completely unrelated to your previous one. Go for a combination of upper and lower case characters with a few numbers in there too.

Step 3: Check other accounts and change their passwords

Many of us naively use the same password for numerous accounts, all linked to the same email address. Which, in short, makes easy pickings for any hacker who has successfully cracked into your email.

Log in to each account, check the status and change passwords so that no two are the same. Avoid using real words to maximise security.

Step 4: Check your sent mail

The best way to see if a hacker has been sending spam or phishing mail to your contacts is to check your sent folder. If it turns out that has happened then you should alert your contacts immediately, informing them of the hack and instructing them to ignore any requests made in the emails they received.

Step 5: Check and change your settings

The more savvy hackers out there are more likely to change the settings of your account to forward emails and information to them, as well as alert them of any changes you make yourself so they can switch it back. Make sure you have already reset your password before you alter the settings.

Step 6: Set up a secondary email

While most of us may operate between a personal email and a work one, getting hacked is an important lesson in how to compartmentalise your online life to protect yourself from future intrusions.

Having a secondary email will allow you to communicate with your provider as well as having an extra safeguard from any hacker who infiltrates your other address.

It is even worth having another separate account that you use solely for signing up to things, so that your user email is not your personal one. Just remember to make every password strong and different.
You can find out more about ITC Secure Networking and the services we offer on our About Us page.