My Yahoo account was hacked. What do I do?
Email accounts get hacked, unfortunately, all the time. Yahoo and AOL accounts and others. Particularly susceptible are those accounts with a simple and/or rarely changed password. What often happens is that after hacking the account the hacker broadcasts a link to a malicious website to all of your contacts. Ouch.
If the recipient of the email clicks on the link, they may at best end up visiting a site selling something they have no interest in. Worse, the link may be a destination that will install malicious code or a bad program on the visitor’s computer.
So what do you do if your email is hacked and a bunch of friends send you an email back saying “why did you send me that link?”?
Simple steps to take after your email account is hacked.
- Do not click on the link that the hacker sent out from your email (if one was included). Inevitably this will be a problematic link as described above.
- Check your settings to make sure a hacker has not changed them. The hacker may have set up your account to be advised of any changes in password, or to forward your email to another address. Verify your settings are what you want them to be.
- Once your settings are verified, change the password to your email account. See this link for information on how to set up and manage good passwords. (Sometimes a hacker will change your password, locking you out of the account. If so, check with your email provider about how to get back access –or to close– a compromised account.)
- Change the password on any account that is linked to this account. Do you have a bank account that sends email to this account? You should change that bank account password pronto!
- Change any other account password that is the same as the old password for the account that was just hacked. Many people use the same password for multiple accounts. That’s a really big no-no and very insecure. If a hacker gets one password, and you use the same password for all accounts, all your online accounts are now in danger of being compromised. You simply must use different passwords for different accounts.
- Send a courtesy note to your contacts letting them know that your account was hacked, apologize, and advise them not to click on any link in the hacked email. Advise them that they too can take steps to protect their accounts from unwanted hacks, and should. Heck, send them a copy of this URL about password best practices: http://goatcloud.com/2013/03/01/password-protection).
- Check your computer for malicious programs. Separately run your anti-virus program and an anti-malware program like Malwarebytes.
- Think twice before logging into personal accounts on public computers, such as at the library, or before using free wifi services at the local coffee shop or elsewhere. It’s entirely possible that a computer or network system you use that is available to the public may have been compromised.
- Consider using multiple email address for online activities. Perhaps one for social networking and personal stuff, one for shopping, and one or more for online banking or other asset accounts.
- Prevent future hacks by setting up and managing strong passwords.
- You may also wish to consider setting up two-step account verification whereby you gain access to your account only after providing not only a user name and password, but also a code sent to your cellphone by the email provider.
Having your email hacked is a major pain. If you do get hacked, these are the steps you can take to recover from the hack and to prevent such attacks in the future.
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