Strange messages, sketchy links, and unknown senders; we’ve all seen this unusual activity in our inboxes, but what's the cause? Unfortunately, these are all signs that your email may have been hacked. Being hacked is a massive invasion of your digital privacy, often putting your data or personal information at risk of being leaked. So what motivates cybercriminals to do this?
Why Would Someone Hack My Email?
There are a number of reasons someone would want to hack into your email:
- To send phishing emails to your contacts
- To access your other accounts
- As a way to steal personal information
- To access your bank account
- To steal your identity
Email hacking is one of the most common ways cybercriminals access financial and personal accounts. Luckily, there are common signs you can watch for to ensure these hackers do as little damage as possible.
4 Signs Your Email Has Been Hacked
1. Your Password Has Been Compromised
You click over to your email, enter your address, then put in your password. After the first error message, you think “Well, maybe I just entered it wrong.” After the second, you start to worry. Then, after your third attempt, you realize that your password has been compromised. The first step many hackers will take once getting access to your account is changing your password; this helps them stay in your account longer, and prevents you from warning people in your contacts list. You’ll want to recover your password immediately once you notice, or contact customer service if the problem persists.
2. You’ve Been Getting a Ton of Spam
If you’ve noticed an uptick in spam emails lately, it's very possible your account information has been leaked. Spam emails are one of the primary methods by which cyber criminals acquire personal data; by including fraudulent links or downloadable files, hackers get access to your computer with various types of malware.
3. Your Account is Sending Spam to Friends
It's not often we check our sent mail folder, but doing so every once and a while is a great email protection technique. Catching a hacker early by seeing sent mail can help prevent your contacts from being hacked; by the time your friends let you know you’ve been sending strange emails, the majority of the damage could be done.
4. There’s Been Unusual Login Activity
If you see strange IP addresses or devices logging into your accounts, that's a sure sign your email has been hacked. Most reputable email services will send a security email informing you when your account is accessed by a new device, and it's vital you never ignore these messages. If you don’t recognize a login, you should change your passwords immediately.
How to Prevent Email Being Hacked
Taking action after a hack is important, and running an email address search can help you quickly identify scammers. But if a hack hasn’t occurred, you’ll still want to take every step you can to prevent one from occurring.
Here are four tips you can use to avoid having your email account hacked.
1. Check Before Clicking Links
Always be cautious when clicking any link provided through email (or anywhere else online for that matter.) Phishing links can lead you to download dangerous malware like viruses, ransomware, and spyware.
2. Switch on MFA
MFA, or multi-factor authentication, is one of the best cybersecurity methods available to the average internet user. By requiring several different forms of identification to login, your email will be far more resistant to hacking. MFA will combine passwords, location information, or biometric data to make your account much more complex to access, keeping scammers out.
3.Scan Your PC
You should be regularly running scans on your PC, but we all make mistakes from time to time. Scanning your PC can reveal any malware currently present within your system, which scammers may be using to get into your email. Once identified, have your anti-virus software remove all traces of the hack and change your account information.
4. Avoid Public Wifi
It can be a great change of pace to work in a coffee shop or library, but be wary of accessing Wi-Fi networks without password protection. Because anyone can access public Wi-Fi, any devices you link to these networks can be accessed by scammers. Once these hackers have access, it's not difficult for them to find the credentials for your email account.
Stay Safe By Spotting a Hack Early
Email hacking can be a scary situation, but only if you catch it too late. By looking for the common signs that pop up when your email is compromised, you can catch a hacker early. That way, you can protect your data, email contacts, and login information from falling into the wrong hands.