Online account hacking is not limited to giant corporations and financial institutions. Personal accounts are also targeted for varying reasons. A myriad of celebrities have been hacked and revealing photos and videos posted and spread across the internet for the entire world to see. While high profile victims of hacking will continue to make the news, virtually anyone is at risk.
So, what do you do when you wake up one day and suspect that the worst has happened?
You try to log into one of your online accounts like Facebook and realize that you can’t gain access?
First, you may want to verify that you are dealing with actual online account hacking and not a case of an incorrect password used. Re-enter your password more carefully and see whether that works. If it doesn’t, try to access your account using a different device. If you can’t, you have most likely been hacked.
Another way to confirm hacking is to check your email. It is common to receive email notifications if you or somebody else accesses an account linked to that email using a different device. If there is such a notification and you do not recall doing that, your account has been compromised.
Once it becomes clear that your privacy has been violated, your next course of action will determine how soon you can recover your account. The sooner, the less the damage. Here is what to do immediately you suspect your account has been hacked.
Report the online account hacking
If you believe you’ve been hacked, you should report the incident to the relevant company right off the bat. Luckily, user security is a top priority for practically all tech companies. Tech giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple have put appropriate measures in place to aid their hacked users to recover their online identities within a short time after reporting such incidences. In some instances, tech companies automatically lock accounts when they detect suspicious activities thus preventing a hacker from causing any damage.
A quick web search using words such as “Facebook account hacked” should take you to the right page to report the incident. Check the URL to make sure that the page you have opened is the official recovery page for that company. You’ll be required to provide personal information to verify that you are the real owner of the account in question. Follow the instructions, and you can gain control of your account without much trouble.
Avoid online account hacking by using the best VPN service
The best way to stay safe online is by using the best VPN service to secure your data as it transits from your device to the web server. A competent VPN service provides a tunnel where your packets of data are encrypted and transmitted securely keeping you safe from hackers and online snoops. A VPN will also help you to surf the web anonymously, evade Censorship, and unblock restricted websites.
Here is our list of the best VPN services that we have tested and found them to offer robust protection
Change Your Password after Online Account Hacking
It is a huge relief to get back your account, and even better to realize that no real damage was done. However, it does not end there. You should realize that there is somebody out there with access to that account. Therefore, the next step is to change your password.
To do away with the inconvenience of having to remember the password of each account, many opt to use the same password for all accounts. The danger in that is that once a hacker cracks the password to one account, all accounts are at risk.
If that is you, you do not just have to change the password of the compromised account, log out of all accounts you are logged in and create a strong and unique password for each account to lock out the hacker completely.
Once you have secured your account with a new password, it is time to assess whether there has been any interference. Review your account settings and ensure that nothing has been altered. Find out whether any suspicious third-party application is connected to your account.
Change your security questions and (or) their answers just in case the hacker noted them down to try to access the account in future. If you were using a single password for multiple accounts, you might have to do the same for all those accounts.
If compromised password could give the hacker access to your bank account or credit card information, you had better review your financial statements to see whether the hacker made any transaction. It also helps you to detect any pending transaction that may have been initiated by the hacker and cancel it before it goes through.
Secure your account to prevent future online account hacking
Strong and unique passwords for each account and a change of account security questions will play a crucial role in thwarting future hacking attempts, but they may not be enough. If anything, they should form the first layer of an otherwise multi-layered security system.
The two-factor authentication security protocol has proved to be very reliable. When you activate it, in addition to keying in your password, you will be required to enter a security code that is sent to your phone. This means that even if a hacker cracks your password, he/she will still not access your account for lack of the security code.
Fortunately, tech giants like Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Facebook allow users to activate the protocol. Facebook also allows previously hacked users to add a list of friends who will verify their identities in case they are hacked again.
Preventing online account hacking also entails trying to find out how the hacker compromised your account in the first place. One place to look is your security against online threats. The breach could have been occasioned by a malware attack that went undetected in the face of out of date antivirus software. If your antivirus software has expired, update it and run a full scan.
Lastly, if it is your Gmail account that was breached, check for any new filters and delete them. Some hackers are known to set up new filters in their victims Gmail accounts such that all incoming emails are forwarded to another account. You wouldn’t want the hacker to receive the emails containing your new passwords.
In summary, the right attitude to adopt towards online account hacking should be such that when one account is hacked, consider all accounts compromised. Try to recover your account in good time, assess the damage, and make wholesale security updates in all accounts.