Online, your email address is inextricably linked to your digital identity. It’s the hub for all your business data, business communications and passwords.
But what if you saw unexplained connections? Or if your trusted passwords don’t work? The bad news is your the email may have been hackedputting your business at risk.
In this article, we’ll cover the 6 most common signs that your email has been hacked and 7 ways to prevent it from happening again.
6 signs your email has been hacked
#1. Your credentials are not working
Can’t login to your email even though you know the details are correct? This is a common first sign of email hacking.
But before you fall into a frenzied panic, check that you have entered the details correctly. If you are sure, start the password recovery process.
If an author changed your recovery information, call your email provider’s customer service. They should be able to help you restore access to your email and better protect it.
#2. You receive emails with password reset emails
Another sign that your email has been hacked is receiving emails requesting a password reset.
Worse still, the notification that a password was successfully changed and you certainly haven’t changed it.
Before taking any action, consider the following:
- DO NOT blindly follow the links in these emails, it could be a phishing attempt.
- Try logging into the account from another browser.
- If your password has changed, follow the official procedure to reverse it.
- If your information is correct, delete the phishing email and report it as spam.
- In any case, change your password immediately afterwards.
#3. Your “Sent” folder is full of emails you didn’t write
Take a look at the “Sent” folder in your email account. Are there any weird emails you don’t remember sending?
Spamming your entire contact list from your email address is a huge red flag.
Generally, scammers will use your email to send their spam and phishing attacks. Smart hackers, however, will also delete all traces of these emails.
At this point, contact your friends to notify them of any suspicious emails from your account and contact support to resolve this issue.
#4. You receive complaints from people on your contact list
Suppose you don’t notice any strange emails in your “sent” folder, but your friends are complaining about the spam you sent them. This is a sign that a hacker has access to your email account and is hiding their activity.
These emails often contain malicious links and other phishing attempts, which can cause your friends and family to receive malware on their devices.
Again, notify your contacts and your workplace’s cybersecurity manager of the hack. This will keep them safe while you update your login and recovery data.
#5. Unusual connections from different locations, devices and browsers
Many accounts will notify you via email when there’s been a new login on an unknown device or in an unusual location. These emails are a sure sign that someone has infiltrated your account.
Did you access your emails at 2am in Moscow on a phone you don’t have? I guess you probably didn’t.
These emails notify you that your account has been hacked, so you should immediately block the device and IP address from future access.
Also check the email before clicking any links in it. It could be a well-planned phishing attempt.
You will be looking for signs such as:
- The sender’s email and if it is spelled correctly;
- If the sender’s logo matches the official logo of the company that is supposed to have sent this email;
- If the email text is poorly written and contains grammatical errors;
- If the email contains a suspicious attachment.
If you notice any of these signs, do not hesitate to contact customer support and ask them if there was an attempt to connect to your email account for real.
Your email account is the gateway to your entire ecosystem of online accounts. Through your email, you can change passwords and even request a one-time password (OTP) for quick access to your other accounts. For example, for your social media pages.
Spammers often use the OTP feature of Facebook and other platforms to broadcast to personal accounts. Your email may have been hacked if you notice:
- Unwanted messages;
- Unusual posts or messages;
- Password changed.
This probably means that you need to change the passwords for all of your accounts. Also, be sure to check your security and account recovery settings.
7 Ways to Prevent Violations in the Future
Here are the golden rules for recovering and preventing email hacking.
#1. Create unique passwords for each account
You can’t expect your email to be secure if you use the same password for each of your accounts. Invest in a reliable password manager. It will assign random passwords to all your accounts and remember them, so you don’t have to.
#2. Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
It’s time to bring your cybersecurity into the 21st century – enable 2FA to reduce the risk of hackers. The connection will require another form of authentication, which makes life more difficult for any hacker trying to gain access.
#3. Browse with a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
You’ve probably heard of it beforebut what is a virtual private network? VPNs protect your email accounts by hiding your data on malicious sites. So while you are browsing, your IP address, browsing activity and personal data are encrypted.
#4. Check if your email has been involved in a breach
Whether you’re reading a headline involving a massive data breach or just want to be careful, there are ways to tell if your email has been stolen. Search engines like Have I been pwned analyze data breaches to find out if your email address has ever been implicated.
#5. Review recovery information and other settings
As soon as you change your password after a hack, check your recovery, auto-forward, and auto-reply settings. Hackers often change them so they can regain access to your emails and account or send spam to your contacts.
#6. Run frequent antivirus scans
Regularly scan your devices for viruses, especially after a suspected breach. Hackers often install malware and other programs on victims’ computers. If caught early, you can avoid a lot of theft and software damage.
Now, this might sound like common sense to some, but work email addresses should remain exclusive to work-related accounts. If you accidentally hand over your work email to a fraudulent source, your entire business could be at risk.
These days, losing access to your email is detrimental to online freelancers, corporate employees, and even casual users.
However, if you know the signs to look for and adopt targeted prevention methods, your email account will be safe from the prying eyes of hackers.