Digital Communication


Digital Communication

What to do in the event of an email account hack?


If criminals gain access to your inbox, sensitive data can quickly fall into the wrong hands. The consequences can be serious. However, do not give in to panic! We help you solve the question: what to do if my mailbox was hacked?

A quick overview of the three most important steps to take immediately if you suspect your email address has been hacked:

  1. Use tools like the Firefox Security Test, available for free on the page Firefox Monitor.

  2. Modify it password of your mailbox and find the cause of the piracy thanks to malware analysis tools.

  3. Remove detected malware and apply new security measuressuch as two-factor authentication, to further secure your mailbox.

How to react if your mailbox has been hacked?

If you have noticed, following tests or unusual activities related to your mailbox, that strangers have access to it, you can step by step roll out our “crisis plan” in order to resolve the situation and regain absolute control of your mailbox.

Step 1: change password

First try to log in as usual to your account. If you can do this successfully, it means your password hasn’t been changed by hackers yet. You have to do it yourself as soon as possible: go to your email settings and change password. You must then save your new email password on your other devices or your incoming emails will no longer arrive.

If the password has already been changed by an attacker, most email providers allow you to access your account by answering one or more security questions. To do this, use the “Forgot password” function. Other providers also ask for cell phone number or alternate email addresses to determine if access is permitted. If you answer the questions correctly, you will receive a new password by email. Then change it to a new one to prevent malicious people from accessing it.

Change your passwords regularly, and use a unique password for each account Passwords should preferably be long, and composed of a random combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters. A password manager helps you keep them handy.

Step 2: find the cause(s) and eradicate them

The second step to solving the problem of your mailbox being hacked is to find the cause or causes: scan your entire system to find viruses, ideally using an emergency recovery disk or an online scanner. Recovery discs are available from most antivirus developers, including Trend Micro. As for the online scanner, we recommend for example F-Secure Or ESET.

This measure is important because, as soon as your mailbox is hacked, the malware can also access your passwords, including those previously modified. Cybercriminals use keyloggers for this. After removing the malware, you must therefore change the password again. This way you can be sure that the virus does not have access to your account.

Whether no malware is detected on your deviceit is quite possible that you have been the victim of email phishing or large-scale data theft in the past.

Step 3: Determine the scale of the attack and keep the evidence

Once you have regained access to your mailbox, checked your system and changed your password, you still have to take stock. Search history of the attack to better appreciate its extent and find evidence: was spam sent in your name? Was your email address used to make online purchases? It is necessary to gather all the possible clues in case you need to prove the fraud urgently. If you or another person (e.g. an online store) has suffered financial damage, it is recommended that you contact the police immediately and consult a lawyer if necessary.

In many cases, the hacking of your mailbox is used to carry out other criminal activities. It is therefore recommended that you inform your contacts of the problem as soon as possible, before they receive messages on your behalf containing dubious links or malware.

Step 4: Improve security measures

Finally, you must protect yourself for the future. Ideally, change all your passwords and use, as mentioned before, a password manager to keep your various access codes at your fingertips.

In addition, it is advisable to secure your most important accounts with two-factor authentication. This is a dual security system, which requires a password for connection, for example an independent encrypted code. Only the password and code authorize the device to connect to the user account. Criminals certainly always have the possibility of seizing your password, but without being able to fill in the second authentication factor, they are unable to connect to your mailbox.

Do you want to benefit from a maximum level of security and seriousness for your mailbox? So create your own email address at IONOS and enjoy an ad-free mailbox, advanced spam filters and optional premium virus protection.

How can my mailbox be hacked?

There prevention is in principle the most effective way to permanently protect your mailbox from malicious attacks. In order to protect yourself as well as possible, it is therefore important to know how hacking a mailbox works. Cybercriminals use several methods to gain access to email addresses and passwords assigned to them. Particularly prevalent types of hacking are attacks on important website servers to steal user data, malware attacks, as well as phishing.

Data theft by server attack

THE online attacks large-scale corporate victims often make headlines. In this way, criminals capture the login data of millions of customers. Because many users use the same password for multiple different sites, hackers attacking one website gain access to countless accounts and Internet sites.

Before you ask yourself “what should I do when my mailbox has been hacked? you can protect yourself beforehand and thus minimize the risks. Use a unique and secure password for each registration. The most secure passwords each consist of a random combination of letters, numbers and special characters, if possible.

Email phishing

The second way to steal confidential data is through email phishing. This is a trap by which malicious software massively send fake emails, tricking recipients into entering their personal login details on bogus sites. The fact is that serious sites, courier services, payment services or online stores never ask their users for their passwords by email. It is therefore important never to communicate this data simply because it is requested from us. If in doubt about the authenticity of an email, do not hesitate to contact the support of the website in question.

The malware attack

The third technique used by cybercriminals to harvest confidential data is the malware attack. Most malware arrives in the form of fraudulent emails or fake attachments: if these files are opened, malware is immediately installed on the recipient’s computer: it is a spyware program or a keylogger type subcategory.

Most malware runs silently in the background and captures sensitive data, including passwords. Keyloggers record every keystroke made on the keyboard of the infected computer, and transmit them to cybercriminals. The best protection against such malware is to install on your computer a recent antivirus and an active firewall. But, it is also everyone’s responsibility to be careful: be suspicious of emails from strangers, and always check the authenticity of an email before opening its attachments.

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