Communication is vital for human beings and online communication is no exception. But the way we communicate has changed a lot over time. Today, people demand fast and accessible communication at any time.
Email provides that. It allows you to communicate with people in and out of your workspace, friends and relatives far away in another country or continent. All you need to do is type a message, select the recipient and click “Send”.
It’s a perfect way to communicate. Or is it?
Unfortunately, email comes with a few risks of its own.
First of all, it’s not secure. It is convenient and accessible first, security and privacy second at best.
So, what do you do in case of an email hack? How do you fix it? Can you fix it in the first place?
Why Do Hackers Hack Email Accounts?
Is it for profit? Because they hate you? To spread chaos? Or something else entirely?
It could be any of those (but in most cases it is to gain illegal profit). You see, your email account is worth a lot more than you might realize.
Your email contains a plethora of valuable information about you, both private and financial, that someone might be willing to pay money for.
To get a better picture, take a look at this image from KrebsonSecurity showing all the accounts associated with your email account.
Someone needs an active Netflix account? No problem. They can buy one underground for $4. A license key for software? Chances are, that’s stored in your email messages.
Or, they might hold your email account for ransom and demand you to pay an exorbitant amount of money to release it.
Whatever the reason, bad actors are more interested in your email account than you might realize.
How Do You Know That Your Email was Hacked?
So what are some tell-tale signs that your email account was compromised and hacked?
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Your contacts are complaining about strange emails they are getting from you.
Say a friend asks you “hey, why are you sending me messages about male alopecia?”. That’s a good sign that your email got hacked and that someone is using it to blast spam and phishing emails from your inbox to your contacts.
- You can’t log in with your password.
Another sure sign that your Yahoo or Gmail was hacked is the fact that you are not able to log in with your password. Someone has changed it. Your only option then is to initiate a password recovery, but you’ll need a secondary recovery device or email for that.
- You are getting unrequested password reset emails.
From time to time you might forget your password. That’s okay because you can send a password reset request and you’ll get a link for it in a few moments. But if your email was hacked, the hacker might also be sending password reset emails to get into your bank account. Keep an eye on any such emails that you know you didn’t request.
- You are sending a lot of weird emails.
Do you see a lot of strange emails in your Sent folder? That usually means only one thing. A hacker is trying to get control of your email account (they don’t have it completely yet) and is blasting all your contacts with these emails.
- You are seeing strange devices, browsers and IP addresses.
A lot of email services will show you the locations, devices, browsers and IP addresses from which your account has been accessed. For instance, if you opened your email from your laptop at your home in Nevada, the login information should display that.
But what if your email has been accessed from a computer with an IP address in Quebec and you’ve never been there? That, my friend, probably means your email has been hacked.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to hide your IP with a VPN or use an anonymous email service provider that does this for. CTemplar, won’t show your real IP address, but CTemplar’s IP instead for instance.
What to Do if Your Email is Hacked?
Now, let’s say one or more of these happened to you? Is there anything you can do if your Gmail has been hacked for instance?
Yes there is!
- Notify people on your email list.
If you know that your email has been hacked and compromised, you should inform people in your contact list about this. Namely, a hacker is probably using your email account to send them spam or phishing email and thus spreading the malware further.
94% of all malware is delivered through email according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report. If that email was sent from an account people trust, there’s a much higher chance that they’ll open it.
- Change your passwords.
A lot of people tend to use weak passwords that are easy to crack. Don’t be such people, especially not when it comes to your email account.
Be sure in the first place to create a strong password for your email, one that won’t be easy to figure out. However, if by chance you think it might be compromised, go ahead and change it,
Most online services and accounts you use are also one way or another connected to your email. To sign up for something, you’ll likely need to provide your email and receive login details, including passwords in your inbox.
Unfortunately, that means those passwords will be within the hacker’s reach giving them access to dozens of your accounts, including banking, social media, business and so on.
As soon as you realize that you’ve been hacked, go through all of them and change them.
- Run an antivirus scan.
Is your security up-to-date? If not, you are vulnerable to getting hacked and can bet that a hacker will try (and often succeed) to exploit that. Be sure to always have antivirus software installed and that it is up-to-date.
Create a habit of running an AV scan from time to time to detect malware, viruses and spyware and should you find anything suspicious, delete it immediately.
- Contact your credit agencies, bank…
The main reason why someone would want to hack your Gmail or Yahoo accounts is that these are likely connected to your financial information and the hacker is looking to get their hands on them.
If you fear that your Gmail is hacked, notify your bank or credit agency about this. They’ll monitor your accounts for any illegal activities the hacker might do.
- Open a new email address.
Let’s get real here. There’s a good chance that your email is gone and nothing you do to retrieve it will work. If that’s the case, all you can do is give up on it and open a new account.
As you’re doing that, be sure to learn from any mistakes you made with the previous one. Like, setting a weak password, clicking on phishing emails or opening malicious attachments and links and don’t make the same mistake(s) again.
- Get a more secure email service.
When we said at the beginning that email is designed to be convenient first and secure second, we had popular email services like Gmail in mind.
With these, no matter what measures you take, there’s always the risk of getting your email hacked.
Instead, switch to an email provider that focuses on providing security and privacy to your account like CTemplar. With CTemplar, you are getting a much stronger end-to-end email encryption that hackers will have a hard time getting past.