This week I’ve been helping out a friend who had his Yahoo email account hacked. They managed to get into his account and proceeded to start sending garbage to all of his contacts. It didn’t take long for these contacts to start complaining. Hey, why are you sending me this crap?. Getting hacked is not a pleasant experience. The feeling of being violated and helpless to do anything about it is no fun.
I’m seeing this more and more with other services like Gmail and Hotmail (now Outlook.com) too, so I wrote up some tips to help you out. If you find your webmail has been hacked, here are the steps to take as soon as possible:
1. Change Your Password Immediately
Change your password, and don’t just change it from dog to cat. Make it something that’s really strong, like mY1dog$Sam. Use letters and numbers and uppercase and lowercase and symbols. This is not easy to guess. A strong password is essential these days.
2. Contact Your Service Provider
Sometimes the password change doesn’t do the trick. This means that the hackers are not getting to your account through the login. They’ve gotten into the system itself. When this happens it’s critical that you contact your service provider. Of coarse they won’t make things easy on you, but do what you need to and jump through their hoops. Here are some starting points:
3. Forget the Hoops
When your service provider fails to respond because they’re a big company and don’t really care about your plight, send an email directly to [email protected]. All responsible websites that send and receive email are supposed to have this email address activated and monitored. Postmaster@ is another one. This is a good last resort, as it goes around the hoops and lets you get right to the point. If possible, forward one of the hacker’s messages to this address and explain your nightmare within. This way they can see what’s going on and look at the email headers.
Sometimes what seems like a hack isn’t a hack, or maybe it’s the aftermath of a hack. Another way that evil people can make you look bad is by spoofing your email address. They simply hack the messages they send and put your email address in where theirs should be. But because modern spam filters look at more than the email address, this isn’t a very effective way to get their messages through anymore. It’s much more effective if they can send right from your account. Unfortunately, if you’re being spoofed, there’s not much you can do about it. Prevention is the key here.
The real gold for email hackers is to have your email address, your contact list and send from your mail server. Your friends and associates are much more likely to open the message if they see it’s from you in their inbox. This can really make you look bad. Hopefully these tips will help you get your situation sorted as soon as possible.
Have a current problem or past experience? I’d love to hear your comments.