The Geek Girl Report: Hijacked@gmail.com or How To Save Your E-mail Account From Being Hacked
It happens to the best of us. We can take all the necessary precautions and do everything right, but sometimes we get careless, or just plain unlucky, and hackers gain access to your E-mail account. And once these guys get their grubby little hands on your E-mail, they can use it to spread viruses, malware, adware and all sorts of nasty things to everyone in your contact list, and anyone else they please. However, there are few steps you can take to minimize the damage. But time is of the essence, so if you suspect your E-mail account has been hacked, follow these steps immediately:
1.) Change your password
First and foremost, change your E-mail password immediately. The most common way hackers gain access to any online account is by guessing the password, and the easier your password is, the easier you make it for hackers to log in and make your life miserable. I have several tips and tricks for making a strong password, but the best advice I can give you is this: do NOT use the same password for multiple accounts.
Also, you might want to double-check the answers you gave for your security questions as well. Questions like "first car you owned," or "town you grew up in," can also be easily guessed, so a good idea is to get a little "creative" with those answers, such as an unusual spelling or something that's not so easily guessed, like putting "Tokyo" for the" town you grew up in," question.
2.) Check all your accounts
If you disregarded the advice above and used your E-mail password for other accounts, check those accounts ASAP and change the passwords on those as well. Specifically, I would recommend checking your online banking accounts first, then check any E-commerce sites you use like Amazon and eBay, then check any additional E-mail and social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you have trouble keeping up with multiple passwords, you may want to look into a password management program like Roboform or KeePass.
Also, if you have any E-mail or social media accounts that you haven't used in awhile, you might want to go ahead and delete those accounts altogether. Unused and idle accounts are easy targets for hackers looking to worm their way into your computer.
3.) Run a virus scan
There is another way hackers can get a hold of your account: viruses. Sometimes, hackers will try to sneak a Trojan virus onto your machine, which either transmit your personal info to them or gives them direct access to your computer. As soon as you can, you'll need to run a complete scan on your system in order to fish out these invasive programs and make your system secure again.
4.) Notify your contacts and apologize
As soon as you notice your E-mail's been hacked, you need to notify your contacts right away. More than likely, whoever is hacking your account is looking to spread their malware/adware through your contact list. Let people know as soon as you can what's going on and advise them to run a virus scan themselves to make sure they weren't sent anything nasty. Better they find out from you now than finding out the hard way when malware wrecks their computer, right?