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I’ve been hacked. How do I recover and secure my account?

frustrated account hack

June 26, 2021

A hack of your email or social media accounts can have serious implications. Let’s look at how to secure an account hack. Compromised personal accounts is a gold mine for personal data and they are often used to access other accounts. Your personal email can contain a lot of information about your subscriptions, financial accounts, social media platforms, and more.

Your personal email account could be the gateway to all your other accounts and cybercriminals can leverage this access to reset passwords to your other online accounts and gain access to them.

If you suspect that your online accounts have been hacked, your best defence is to act… FAST. You may need to minimise as much of the damage to your accounts, identity, and finances as soon as you can.

If you become the victim of a hacked email account, here’s what you can do to remediate the situation.

Let CertNZ know

CertNZ helps New Zealanders respond to cybersecurity threats and should be your first port of call when you need to report a cybersecurity issue. CertNZ supports businesses and individuals affected by cybersecurity incidents and provides trusted advice. They can help you secure an online account and recover from a hack. Report your issue here.

Each account is different, but they probably have advice on where to start

After informing CertNZ that you suspect an online account is compromised, see what advice the platform can offer. Email accounts, like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, offer ease to access advice on how to deal with an account breach, depending on whether you still have access to the account of not. Social media platforms like FacebookLinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. offer the similar advice.

I still have access to my account, now what?

In many cases, you may still be able to access your account. The first thing you need to do is change your password. If your personal email and other accounts have been compromised, start by changing the password to the email account first, then work your way through to the other accounts.

Read our blog on using a password manager to make password creation, updates, and access easy.

Minimise the damage

The cybercriminals have been accessing and using your account. You need to identify the actions they’ve taken. This could be part of the advice you get on how to deal with the specific account breach, but here are a few things to look out for:

  • Have any of your names been changed?
  • Has someone sent emails on your behalf, or created a post, comment or message using the account?
  • Be sure to check the deleted and draft email folders.
  • Check the reply-to and forwarding addresses on your email accounts.
  • Check your default sending address.
  • Notify people you know, especially those that may be affected.

Change your security questions

If you are unsure of how your account was breached, and you’ve updated your password, make sure to change your security questions. Aside from easy-to-guess or compromised passwords, security questions is a common way cybercriminals use to access online accounts.

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