Email Hacked?

January 15, 2015

Any email account can get hacked. But some email services are more vulnerable than others. Yahoo email is the most hacked email we encounter, hands down.

When I say an email account gets hacked, what I mean is that someone whom you did not authorize has gained access to your email account without your permission. Basically, unauthorized access to your email account.

Before I continue, you need to be aware that it is possible to send an email and make it look like it’s from someone else, when, in fact, it’s not from that person. Someone could send out SPAM email and make it look like it’s from you when, in fact, they did not use your email account to send the email. This isn’t email hacking. This is spoofing. Today I am only talking about hacked email accounts, not spoofed email accounts.

How can an email account get hacked?
There are many ways someone can hack your email account. I’m not going to list them all, but I will list a few of the most common ways.

  • You click on a link or open an email attachment that steals your email account info
  • You login to your email account on an infected computer, either your own, or someone else’s.
  • If you save your email password in your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.), someone who gains access to your computer can find out what your password is.
  • You keep your password written down on paper and stored near your computer. Someone who has access to that room can find out your password.
  • Someone looks over your shoulder as you login to your email account and sees the password you type

I could go on and on. As you can see, some email hacks are sophisticated while others aren’t. The less sophisticated methods can be easily prevented. The more sophisticated methods are harder to prevent. It’s these more sophisticated hacks that cause Yahoo Email to be compromised because Yahoo mail is more vulnerable to these types of attacks.

How do you know if your email account has been hacked?
Here are some of the signs:

  1. You get email from your friends notifying you of a strange or suspicious email you sent them. But you never sent them any email like that.
  2. You get a lot of emails back from mailer-daemon telling you of failed emails to people you never heard of. People you never sent email to. By the way, mailer-daemon isn’t a virus. It’s a program on an email server that processes email.
  3. In extreme cases, your email provider may shut down your email account or your internet service provider could shut down your internet access until the problem is resolved.

What should you do if your email account gets hacked?

  1. Change your email password.
    Your email password should be at least 8 characters long. It should contain both upper and lowercase letters. It should contain at least one number and one symbol. And this password should not be used for any other accounts.
  2. Change your security question(s).
    All email accounts have security questions that can be used to reset your password if you forget your password. When you signed up for your email account, they made you create these security questions. Yahoo calls them secret questions, but they are the same thing. If a hacker gets your password, they may change your security questions. If you change your password, they can change it back by using the security questions. So it’s important to change your security questions in addition to changing your password.
  3. Set up 2-step verification.
    This is a second layer of security that will prevent a hacker from gaining access to your email account. Yahoo calls it second sign-in verification. Gmail and Outlook.com call it 2-step verification. When 2-step verification is in place and you login to your email on a particular device for the first time, that’s when it kicks in. Some services send you an email to a different account to verify you are who you say you are. Most want to send a text message to your cell phone with a code in it. You put the code in on the device you are signing into and that’s it. Once you have successfully set up a particular device for access to your email, you don’t have to go through the 2-step verification process on that device again.You will have to go through this once on each device you use to access your email. So if you access your email on your phone, tablet, laptop, or more than one computer, you’ll have to do this on each one. But only once. You can see how this would prevent a hacker from accessing your email. They may get your password, but they don’t have your cell phone, so they can’t gain access to your email account.
  4. Make sure you have good, up-to-date, unexpired security software. Keep tabs on it to make sure it’s working right and don’t let it expire.

How to prevent your email account from being hacked.

  1. Set your email password according to the guidelines detailed above.
  2. Set up second sign-in (2-step) verification.
  3. Make sure you have good, up-to-date, unexpired security software. Keep tabs on it to make sure it’s working right and don’t let it expire.
  4. Use one of the more secure email services like Outlook.com or Gmail.com.
  5. Don’t save your email password in your browser.
  6. Don’t tell anyone your password.
  7. Don’t keep your password written down in any place that is accessible to others. Consider purchasing password manager software like RoboForm (roboform.com) or LastPass (www.lastpass.com).

And, as always, if you have any questions about this or need help with it, let us know.

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