Mail hacked? What to do.


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A good friend of Office Watch had their Gmail account hacked and asked Peter the obvious question … what should I do?

Our friend (no name, no shame) was ‘lucky’. The hackers didn’t change her password so she could still access her account. They sent an email to everyone in her contacts list with a dangerous web link.

Google’s system blocked the Gmail account due to the suspicious activity – logins from different countries (including Nigeria) in quick succession then sending out a large number of emails. Warning emails where sent by Google to the owners alternate email and texts to her phone (one reason why setting up those alternates is a good idea).

Our suggestions for immediate action:

  • Change the Gmail or other mail host password. Make sure the new password is strong with a mix of upper & lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Change your password on other important web sites; banks, other mail accounts, Paypal and other sites which store your credit card or bank account details.
  • Email an explanation / apology to everyone who may have received the bogus email. Recommend that they delete the message. If they’ve clicked on the link and, perhaps, entered detail into a web page they should change their main passwords. You may need to send the messages from another email address if the hacked email account is still limited.

We’ve said it before and say it again. There’s a lot of focus on strong passwords for banking and online shopping which stores your credit card details, and those sites are important. But email accounts are the vital key to your digital world. If someone can access your email account, they can see what other web sites you have, your bank accounts, online shopping etc. – all from past emails.

Worse still, they can change passwords on other accounts because the lost password verifications go to your email address.

The above are some first steps to take. Beyond that, there are preventative measures to make sure you don’t get hacked again. If your mail account is successfully attacked once, the baddies are more likely to try again.

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