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I think my email account has been hacked, what can I do?

First of all you need to establish, why you think your email account has been hacked or compromised. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Is there unusual activity in your email account?
  • Did the password change, or have you had notification of attempted password resets?
  • Are friends, family or email contacts getting unusual emails from you that you did not send?
  • Did your computer recently or in the past have a malware/virus infection?
  • Are you making posts on social media accounts you did not post?

If you think that you have been compromised, the website staysafeonline.org has some good advice to follow:

  1. “Notify all of your contacts that they may receive spam messages that appear to come from your account. Tell your contacts they shouldn’t open messages or click on any links from your account and warn them about the potential for malware.”
  2. “If you believe your computer is infected, be sure your security software is up to date and scan your system for malware. You can also use other scanners and removal tools.”
  3. “Change passwords to all accounts that have been compromised and other key accounts ASAP. Remember, passwords should be long and strong and use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, and numbers and symbols. You should have a unique password for each account.”
  4. “If you cannot access your account because a password has been changed, contact the web service immediately and follow any steps they have for recovering an account.”

A key piece of advice to minimise any online account being hacked is your password security. Number 3 in this lists is imperative – make passwords complex, and “You should have a unique password for each account.”

Lots of websites are now prompting you to set up 2-factor authentication. This means when you first log into the website from a new device you will have to enter a secret code which is sent as a txt to a designated mobile phone, as well as your username and password. Once setup you will not need to enter this every time. But if things change on your device, you access the website from a tablet, phone or another person’s computer, you will be challenged to enter a new code that will be sent to your mobile. If websites you use prompt you to set this up, then do.

Now I know that this is all pain, but in these days of increased online fraud and security breaches, it sound guidance, and essential to keep your online accounts safe.

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