A research done by The Radicati Group Inc. shows that the total number of email users by 2023 will be about 4.3 billion people. In addition, it estimates that by the end of the same year, the number of emails being exchanged daily will be about 347 billion.
This study only shows that the pasture will get even greener for email hackers. Now that almost all your important affiliations online are connected to your email, it could mean significant damages to you, your finances, or even to your network if your email gets hacked.
Email accounts are one of the lifeblood of hackers; especially today where emails are no longer only used to send messages, but also to sign into different accounts owned by a single user. If your email gets hacked, the hackers might access your other accounts too.
Recovering a hacked email account is more difficult than preventing your email from being hacked. However, should this unfortunate event happen to you, your immediate and careful action can reduce the extent of potential damages that you will suffer.
In this article, we will discuss the signs that your email has been hacked; and the things that you should do if that happens. Lastly, we have compiled a list of things that you can do to protect your email from being hacked.
How to Tell if Your Email Has Been Hacked
- Your contacts receive emails from you that you did not send. One of the obvious signs your account has been compromised is when your contacts are receiving emails from you that you did not personally send. If they open these messages, they could be victimized if the emails contain attachments to spread malware to other people.
- Your password no longer works. If you can no longer access your account using your current password, the hackers may have been able to change it.
- Poor PC performance. If your computer starts to behave erratically or perform poorly, it could be an indication of a malware – particularly, a spyware. This is a malicious software that is used to track your activities, destroy personal files, and steal personal data. A spyware can put your system under a lot of processing stress, which ultimately affects its performance. It can originate from the attachments in the email that you received.
Things to Do if Your Email Is Hacked
- Change your password and security questions (if possible).
If you still have access to your account, you should immediately change your password to lock the hackers out. Make sure that it is unrelated and entirely different from the previous one.
Go for a password that is at least 8-10 characters long, has numbers and special characters, and a mix of upper and lower-case letters. To be sure, you should also change the passwords of all the online accounts associated to that email.
- Run a full scan of your computer.
Run a FULL SCAN of your computer by using an authentic anti-malware. By running a full security scan, you will know if your computer is infected with malware.
- Notify your friends, colleagues, and business associates.
Getting access to your email is only the beginning of a larger cyber-attack. When hackers have breached your account, they will try to get to as many emails as possible. Before this happens, alert your friends, colleagues, and business associates that the hackers might try email them using your account. Let them know that your account has been compromised and that any message coming from it might potentially be a virus.
Protect Your Email from Getting Hacked
- Enable two-factor authentication.
To protect your email from unauthorized log ins, enable two-factor authentication. This works by sending your registered number a one-time password every time a log in attempt is made. The password should be entered into the log in page so you can gain entry.
This is a good security measure because only you have access to your phone number, therefore, only you would know the one-time password.
- Protect yourself before it happens.
Another way of prevention is to install an anti-virus software, or much better, a security suite to your computer. These are programs running in background to keep your files and sensitive information safe.
- Do not give your passwords to anyone.
This is quite self-explanatory. You want to be the only person who can access your email account. So don’t give away your passwords.
- Do not store your passwords on your computer.
It easy to access computer documents if they are not password protected. Therefore, if you are not the only one using your computer (or even if you are the only one using it) do not save your email credentials in it.
- Avoid using your emails on unassociated websites.
There are websites that appear legitimate but are not. These are called phishing websites. The purpose of these websites is to gather personal information from unsuspecting users and use this information to access emails, bank accounts, and more. Therefore, be cautious and always make sure that you are logging into a legitimate website.
Prevention is always better than cure. Before it happens, be vigilant enough, and take the necessary steps to repel potential hackers. But if a hacker does gain access to your account, act immediately and follow the steps listed above.