Help! Someone Hacked My Email Account! 6 Important Steps to Deal with a Compromised Email Account
Can someone hack you through email? They can if you are not careful about what you click on or open. In this article, we'll cover:
- How email accounts get hacked?
- Why email addresses are hacked?
- Most common signs that your email has been hacked
- What to do if your email account has been hacked?
- How to never get your email hijacked again?
Protecting your electronic mail is important if you want to protect your privacy, so let's start by answering the first question:
How Do Hackers Get Into Email Accounts?
According to Verizon email compromises cost $24,439 per case on average.
"How do I know someone is trying to hack my Gmail?"
According to the FBI, phishing emails reports doubled between 2019 and 2020 from 114,702 to 241,324 and increased 11 times from 2016 to 2020.
If the attacker convinces the user they are legitimate and sends them to a phishing website, (to enter login information) the attack has done its job. Furthermore, they can introduce malware via links and attachments in messages.
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks
Electronic mail is usually a 2-way communication between the sender's computer and the recipient.
But, if an attacker "infiltrates" the communication between the sender and the recipient and performs a "man-in-the-middle" attack, they can read messages between your computer and the recipient.
Guessing Your Email Password
Guessing passwords is easier for cybercriminals than you might think.
People often don't think twice about the privacy on their social media and post a lot of information that criminals can use against them. It's often enough for a hacker to go through your social networks and find what you might be using as your password.
Another common way electronic mail gets hacked is if you publish your address too often in forums, blogs and so on. This gives spammers a chance to harvest e-mail addresses from these lists, including yours, so be careful where you list your e-mail.
Using a Public Computer and Not Logging Out After You Finish
Public computers are okay for quick research and if don't have access to your computer. But, you shouldn't use them to check your email inbox as they might have a Keylogger or malware.
And even if they're not, you should still log out as soon as you finish so that no one after you can see your messages.
There are other ways that hackers can use to hack your e-mail, but these are by far the most common and now that you learned about these, let's take a look next at:
Why Hackers Want to Access to Your Account
What do hackers want with your email accounts? Money!
Perhaps you're thinking that there's nothing in your messages folder that might be of interest to them, but you're wrong.
Here are just some of the information that can hackers do with your e-mail address or account:
- Your login information (username and password) for other sites, such as social media
- Email contacts, like family members, coworkers, friends and so on
- The company you work for (to conduct business email compromise attacks)
- Websites/APP you are signed up to
- Bank account information
- Your credit card information
So why are hackers interested in things like your contact list, your card details, or what social networking site you are using? Because they can sell this information on the dark web illegally.
According to Experian, credit cards sell for $5 - $100+, while a PayPal or other online payment services login info goes from $20 to $200. All this data is in your inbox.
But, if you're asking "why someone is trying to hack my Gmail?", here are a few things they can do with your stolen email address:
- To access your other online profiles
- To send spam and phishing emails in your name
- To steal your money
- For identity theft
- To blackmail you
Request Password Changes
In most cases, your e-mail address will serve as the username for your other accounts (social media accounts, bank accounts, PayPal...). If the hacker has access to your e-mail account, they'll have access to your other accounts as well. All they need to do is click "forgot password" link.
Send Emails in Your Name
Another problem hackers can make if they have your email address hijacked is to send mail in your name. There are a couple of things they can do with this:
- They can send emails to people on your contact list and ask them for money, or send them links with malware in it. Since the other person will see your address, they'll believe the message is legitimate. This is how spear phishing is often done.
- Also, they can use your address to send spam emails across the Internet. This way, you address can end up blacklisted.
Read Your Credit and Debit Card Details
This alone isn't enough to access your financial accounts (most will have another security measure or two), your e-mail, gives the criminal a good start to breach your account.
However, you've likely sent your credit and debit card information via mail at some point and hackers would very much like to get their hands on it.
At least, they can read your bank statements.
"Steal" Your Online Identity
Identity theft is when a criminal steals your information to commit fraud, file taxes, get medical services, apply for loans and credits and so on. Every year, over 12 million people in America become victims of identity theft.
If the attacker has control of enough of your accounts ( online mail, social media...), they can "steal" your online identity. That way, they can commit fraud using your name, change your online passwords etc.
If the hacker has some personal information they can use against you, they will.
Fortunately, if you're not a public figure or celebrity, you probably don't have much to worry about.
But if they get in a ransomware in, you have a problem.
9 Sure Signs of a Compromised Email Account
There are plenty of signs that your email has been hacked, you just need to know where to look.
Here are the 9 signs of a compromised email account:
- Your password has changed
- Your email signature is different
- Strange messages in your "Sent" and "Drafts" folders
- Opened "Inbox" messages that you didn't open
- You're getting requests to change your online passwords ("forgot password")
- The IP doesn't match
- E-mails in your "Trash" folder that you didn't put there
- Different login times
- Your contacts are complaining about receiving weird emails from you
What to Do if Your Email Gets Hacked?
"Help! Someone hacked my email account! What should I do?"
If you notice any signs that your mail is hacked , here are a few steps that you should do immediately to fix it. Act quickly if you want your account back in control.
Change Your Password Right Away
Can someone hack my email without my password?
This is the first thing you should do if your account gets hacked. Hopefully, you acted quickly enough and the hacker didn't get to change your password. Otherwise, they can lock you out of your account.
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra security layer to your security solutions. This will warn you of any activity on your account such as the hacker changing your passwords.
Warn Your Contacts and Your Company
Some of your contacts will already notice that something is wrong with your messages (strange links). Still, you should warn them not to open them, click on links or respond to requests for money from you.
Let Your Bank Know About it
Notify your financial service provider about your hacked email account. Make sure they at least keep an eye on your account especially for credit card fraud.
Change Your Security Questions
Most email providers no longer use security questions, but if your provider still does, go over to your account settings and change them. Don't use information that hackers can find on your social media accounts though.
Scan Your Computer and Install Strong Security Software To Protect it From Viruses and Malware
Finally, be sure to scan your computer for viruses and malware. If you don't have it already, install a good security software on your computer to ward off hackers.
Next Steps You Should Take to Protect Your Online Privacy
Are you looking for a good email provider that will protect your privacy and keep hackers away from your email address?
Without thinking and acting on your security and having a good security software to protect you, your inbox will always be in danger. And with it, your privacy.
Sign up for CTemplar: Armored Email. CTemplar uses zero-knowledge password protection technology. That means you're the only one who will know your passwords and we also never store your IP to track you like other providers do.