If one day, you are watching the news and hear that a social network has been hacked, you might think, well, that doesn’t affect me, but then when you remember that you have an account there, things get a little different. This is one light scenario.
How about waking up one morning to a debit alert from your PayPal email? Hackers have somehow managed to get into your PayPal and somehow withdrawn money from your account; the first thing you should do in this situation is to ensure that the hacker cannot continue to steal your funds.
There are actually recommended steps to take if you have been hacked, and that is what this article is about – what to do when you have been hacked. Read this article to the end to equip yourself with the standard course of actions to take to mitigate damage to your hacked account.
Change your password
If you suspect that you have been hacked, the first thing you should do is change the password to the account you feel has been compromised. Most password resets usually send the instructions to your email. If your email is also hacked, there should be other password recovery options.
If there are none or the option you attempt fails, then you can speak to support or contact the company directly. When you do change your password, turn on two-factor authentication if available; this way, even if your password gets hacked, the attacker must also enter another code. Usually a one-time password (OTP) texted to your mobile.
To secure your new password, do not use a password you have used in the past and make your new password complex; one that does not contain any dictionary words, your name, or anything obvious.
Also, as much as possible, do not use one password for multiple accounts because if you the password for one account is hacked, the hacker would most likely attempt it on other of your accounts.
Further, endeavor to change your new password regularly and not only when you have been hacked. Change regularly because most hackers now operate covertly and steal your data without you discovering that you have been hacked.
Delete Sensitive Data from the Hacked Account
The primary goal of compromising an account is to steal information, and the hacker might have taken your sensitive and private information already (or not), but to stop this, endeavor to delete all your important files immediately, from the hacked account. This is vital for cloud services like Google Drive, iCloud Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Check your computer
Changing your password should be your next line of action if you have been hacked; however, some exploits live on your computer, and they will steal your new password or data if left unchecked, as most malware log your keystrokes or even steal your account details.
Everyone knows the essence of having a good antivirus or antimalware software, but most people often ignore it. Purchase antivirus software and run a scan on your devices. Scan your PCs, smartphones, tablets, and so forth. If the software detects a malware, you must change your password again. I advise that you change your passwords whether or not a virus or malware was found.
Verify your account details and revoke app permissions
Interestingly, most hacks originate from seemingly useful applications that you granted privileges for one reason or another. For instance, some services may promise to help you grow your Twitter following, and so you give them permissions to post on your behalf or read and edit your account information, etc.
While they could grow your Twitter, they could also be stealing your data, so take note of these services. Confirm the third-party apps that are granted permissions to your social media accounts, emails, and so on. If you find a suspicious one, revoke the privileges immediately.
Also, changing crucial details like your password can break other systems that use it; besides, the hackers might have updated your information to fulfill their goals. Verify your shipping details to see if your address is correct and delete apps you do not remember installing. All these are crucial steps to mitigating breaches on your accounts.
Let people know
From your account, hackers can somehow compromise the accounts of other people you know. Hackers would usually get in touch with your family or friends to ask them for money. It is also not uncommon for hackers to impersonate you and carry out some nasty stuff in your name (this will be explained in the next step), so it is in your best interest to alert your contacts and let them know that your account on the particular platform was hacked.
Verify past posts
Similar to the above step of verifying your account details, if your social media account was hacked, after changing your password and confirming your account information, your next line of action should be to check if the attacker posted any malicious content in your name, either to defraud your contacts, defame you, advertise a product to your friends in your name, or simply catch some (twisted) fun.
Set up new accounts (Optional)
Now is the time to set up new accounts if you want to. Even though you have repelled the cyber attack or suffered it and recovered, depending on the account that was hacked, it is advisable to do away with the old one. An alternative is to leave it dormant for a while and watch it. When you are sure the account is entirely secure, you can continue using it, this time more conscious about your information security to prevent getting hacked again.
If your social media accounts were hacked, setting up a new account would be unimportant because your old friends and followers will be unaware of the new account. However, in breaches involving your financial account such as your PayPal or Stripe account, you should set up a new one. They’re quite easy to set up.
No one plans or wants to get hacked. With the ever-increasing reports of cybersecurity threats, everyone is a target, and so people are now being taught how to secure their online activity from hackers. However, this post takes another angle to look at the vital measures to consider if you are ever the victim of a hack.