You recently received a warning note or a confused message from one of your email contacts. They ask, “Why did you send me this weird link?” Immediately you realize that you didn’t send them a link. Oh no! Your email account has been hacked! Deleting the account is out of the question. This is an account you use often and you’ve had it for years. However, keeping the account seems impractical, maybe even dangerous. Now what can do you do?
Actually, when your email account is compromised, deletion isn’t necessarily your only recourse. If you act wisely, your account may be saved and your account’s security can be restored. All it takes is diligence, promptness, and a few simple steps.
Step One - As soon as you realize that your account has been hacked, change your password. Simple, right? Change your password. Don’t worry about figuring out some clever, un-hackable password yet. For the time being, just make sure that it’s different from your current one. We’ll focus on finding a great password later.
Step Two - Contact everyone that received the phony email. Make sure you contact anyone and everyone who received that spam! Go to your Sent Mail folder and see who that email was sent to. If you can’t find that specific email, simply send out a general warning to everyone on your contact list or in your address book. You don’t need to frighten anyone or go into extensive detail. Simply send a note that reads something like this:
“Hello. I’m sending this to everyone on my contact list as a warning that my email account was recently compromised. If you have received an email from me with an embedded link, please do not click on that link. Instead, delete the email if you haven’t already done so. Thank you.”Make sure to include your name and don’t send the email without a subject. You want to reassure your contacts that it really is you this time. Also, please remember to send the email to yourself and then BCC (blind carbon copy) to everyone else.
Step Three Make sure no other accounts have been hacked. Proceed to check your other accounts now, email and otherwise. If you use the same password for everything – change it!
Step Four Now’s the time to configure an awesome, devastatingly complicated password. Or at least a harder one to crack. Try the popular formula of combing the first letters and numbers of things familiar to you. Here’s an example: Let’s say I use my name, date of birth, and my dog’s name to come up with my password combo. It would look like this: Rayna Battle March 10 1932 Fifi = RB31032F See how that works? A nicely complicated password that you’ll actually recall. (I still recommend jotting it down, though).
Finally...If the situation is just too extreme for you or perhaps you’d rather just end it all, go ahead and delete that unsecured account. If anyone from your address book – old or new – was sent spam, though, it would still be nice of you to send a notice before you delete your account. Make sure to inform everyone that your account will be deleted, too.