It all starts with a message, phone call, or text from a concerned friend or family member. I think you've been hacked, they say. They're getting emails, or Facebook messages from you with seemingly random, sometimes explicit links or urgent, please to wire money to you. It looks like a hacker has taken over your account. What do you do next?
Check if your information has been leaked
How do I know if I've been hacked?
If your friends and family are receiving emails or messages that you didn't send, this is a huge red flag. You may also find that your sent messages folder includes messages that you didn't send or that it's completely empty. Your social media accounts may show posts that you didn't make, or you may not be able to sign in to your email or social media accounts at all.
What should I do when I've been hacked?
1. Change Your Passwords Immediately change your passwords, not only for the hacked account but also for any accounts where you used the same password. Hackers often test your login credentials on other major websites because so many people use the same passwords for multiple accounts. If your email address was hacked, make sure to change the passwords for any accounts where you listed that same email address, even if the passwords were different. With access to your email account, hackers can easily reset the passwords for your other accounts.
2. Alert Your Friends and Family If the hacker sent emails or messages to your contacts with suspicious links or to request money, make sure to alert your friends and family that you did not send these. If they click on a link sent by a hacker, this opens them up to the possibility of phishing and other scams. Any money that they send to the hacker, thinking it was you will not be able to be recovered.
3. Check the Account Restoration Advice Specific to Your Hacked Account Most providers, including Facebook, Paypal, Gmail, Yahoo, and Twitter, offer advice specific to their product that can help you restore access to your account. Locate, read, and follow their advice. To find this advice, search online for the name of the service, followed by a "hacked account."
4. Activate Account Monitoring & Browser Protection Guardio offers account monitoring that can alert you right away if your account information was shared online or on the dark web for criminals to access so that you know to begin taking action to protect yourself right away. It will also scan each of the websites that you visit and extensions that you add to ensure that they're free of malicious code and scams. They catch things like phishing pages and keyloggers that often go unnoticed and cause accounts to be hacked.