How do I know if my email has been hacked?

Person wearing hoodie types on laptop while looking at screen with the words Hacker Attack

What happens if your email has been hacked?

How do you know if your email has been hacked or comprised? And if it happens, how can you block cybercriminals and regain control of your account? Discover the most common signs of a hacker attack and what to do about them.

What are the signs of a hacked email account?

There are several different clues that tell you whether someone has tried – or succeeded – in gaining access to your email account:

1. Reports of spam coming from you

People saved in your email contacts keep telling you they’ve been getting spam from you. This can be a sign that someone has obtained access to your account. But before you spring to action, ask the affected person to mouse over the sender name of the spam message in question. If a different email address is shown instead of yours, it’s possible that someone is using your sender name but not your email address. This is called “spoofing,” and is not a sign that your account has been hacked.

2. Failed login notifications

You log in to your email account and see a notification that there have been several failed attempts to sign in. But you don’t recall any failed logins! It could be that hackers were trying to break into your account. Even if you are not sure if they actually succeeded, to be on the safe side you should still take the precautions below.

3. Login sessions you don’t recognize

Many email providers let you see all current logins to your account. In your mail.com account, go to Home > Manage Sessions to see the location and IP address of everyone who is currently logged into your account. If the location seems strange, like a different city or country than the one you are in, you can end that session manually by clicking the trash symbol on the right. Then follow the steps below.
Screenshot of Manage Sessions window in mail.com mailbox
Don’t recognize this login? You can manually terminate the session here.
 

4. Changes to your settings

Have you received an email from your email provider telling you that your account settings or personal profile has been changed – but you haven’t made any changes recently yourself? This can be an indicator for hacking that requires immediate action as outlined below. In some cases, however, it is not a sign that your account has been compromised, but rather a phishing scam in which someone has faked the sender address of a provider in an attempt to get you to reveal your login information. For example, mail.com does not send notifications about changed settings, so any such notification claiming to be from us is fake and not a sign of a hack.

5. Unable to access email account

You try to log in to your account with your password but receive an “Incorrect password” message. If you are 100% certain that you’re using the correct password, it’s very likely that your account has been hijacked and your login credentials changed. Follow the password recovery process to reset your password. If you have not saved a contact email address or cell phone number for password recovery in your account settings, contact customer support to reset your password. Once you have regained access to your email account, continue with the steps below.

What to do if your email is hacked?

If you suspect or know that your email has been hacked, follow these five steps immediately:
  1. Change your password
  2. Run a virus scan
  3. Check your security settings
  4. Check your filter rules, Mail Collector and email aliases
  5. Consider activating two-factor authentication
Change your password immediately! A strong password is the best way to prevent future email hacks.

Next, perform an antivirus scan – but first make sure your security software is up to date. If you don’t have an antivirus program, now is the time to install one! Be sure you run the scan on all devices you use to check your emails. If the scan turns up malware, follow the security program’s instructions to quarantine and remove it – and then change your password again, even you just reset it. Otherwise the hacker may get your new password as well.   

Now you should double-check your account’s security settings. In particular, make sure your password recovery options are up to date and that your spam protection is activated.   

Finally, have a look at your account’s filter rules, Mail Collector and alias addresses. Filter rules and mail collectors can be used by hackers to forward your emails without you even noticing, so make sure no new setup has appeared in your inbox. The same goes for your email aliases: If you find any addresses which you didn't configure yourself, please delete them immediately.

Pro tip: If you share a computer or use your device in a public setting, activating two-factor authentication gives you an extra layer of protection against unauthorized account access. Even if someone manages to get their hands on your password, they won’t be able to log in to your account without the six-digit code generated by your authentication app.

If you think your email has been hacked and need more help, our customer support team will be happy to assist you.

We hope you found this article useful. We look forward to your feedback!

Image: 1&1/Shutterstock
 

Posted in

Email Inbox Security

22 people found this article helpful.

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