Unfortunately, hackers love to get into other people’s email accounts… It lets them send spam or scam emails with little risk of being detected. Most of the time, you won’t even know a hacker has access to your account until a family member or friend lets you know you’ve been sending weird emails from your account.
When this happens, don’t panic. Follow these steps to weed out the hijacker and restore order to your inbox.
1. Change your password immediately.
Changing your password will stop the attack the majority of time, so the first step is to log in to your email account and change your password to a new and very strong password.
If you’re unable to access your account, then the hacker has already done this step for you… And they’re probably not going to share the new password with you. At this point, you’ll need to contact your email administrator or service provider and ask for their help in taking back control of your account.
2. Scan for viruses and malware.
It’s possible that a virus or malicious piece of software made its way into your computer, allowing the hacker to access your email account. If you have antivirus software, make sure your virus and malware definitions are up to date. If you don’t have an antivirus program, then install one immediately. Microsoft Security Essentials is free, easy-to-install and dependable.
Once you have an up-to-date antivirus program, run a full scan of all the computers you use to access your email account.
3. Change your security questions.
When you created your email account, you more than likely chose and answered a few security questions. Assume that those questions are now compromised and select and answer new ones.
4. Don’t ever give anyone your password. Ever.
Just don’t do it.
5. Sign out of public computers.
If you’ve accessed your email on a computer other than your own, be sure to sign out when you’re done. If you don’t, you’re essentially giving the next person that uses that computer the keys to your account.
If you’ve followed the steps above and you’re still experiencing troubles with your email account, you may need to hire a pro to come in and take a look at what’s going on. At OAC Technology, a Minneapolis-based IT company, we offer free Network Security Audits and can also handle Virus and Malware Removal.