Email Security 101: Your Guide for Prevention, Awareness, and Damage Control
What do you do if your email is hacked? We’ve got you covered.
It’s happened to the best of us; you notice something funky with your email, and the word “hacked” starts swirling in your brain.
Maybe you received a notification about unauthorized login activity. Or perhaps a friend/colleague says they got a strange email about how you ran into some gambling trouble in Zimbabwe and need $2,000 wired immediately.
Either way, email hacking is part of life in today’s digital age; 58% of organizations have reported suffering account takeover attacks.
Our email accounts are a treasure trove of data, from personal conversations to sensitive financial information. Naturally, hackers want in.
But fear not! No-IP has created this three-part rescue plan to help you avoid or minimize damage from email hacking attempts. We’ll focus on:
- Prevention (proactive steps to prevent email hack attempts)
- Awareness (red flags that signal a hacking attempt) and…
- Damage Control (how to minimize the impact of an email hack).
Let’s dive in:
Prevention: 6 Ways To Protect Your Email Security
The best offense is a good defense, right? Here’s how to minimize the risk of an email hack in the future:
1. Use strong and unique passwords.
Choosing a password is easy, but choosing a safe password is a different story. You want a long (think: 14 characters) with some indecipherable words included. We’ve got a guide to creating a strong password if you want to dive deeper.
2. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
If you haven’t already, consider turning on two-factor authentication for an added layer of security. 2FA requires a verification code (in addition to your password) to access your account. Typically, this code will be texted to your mobile device or emailed to your backup email account.
3. Check if you’ve been part of a data breach.
4. Be cautious of phishing attempts.
Phishing emails are designed to trick you into revealing sensitive information. They might be a hacker’s way into accessing your email account. Don’t click suspicious links and always double-check that your emails are coming from a verified address. Check out our tips for protecting yourself from phishing.
5. Keep your software up to date.
Update your email client, web browser and operating system often to patch any potential security risks. Each update will likely include additional security benefits.
6. Use a secure connection.
Especially if you’re accessing emails over public Wi-Fi networks (like a coffee shop or library), ensure that your email connections use encryption.
A combination of Dynamic DNS and an anonymous VPN can help you enjoy private, secure and anonymous online browsing. We recommend exploring more about this dynamic duo.
Awareness: 4 Signs You May Have Been Hacked
Maybe you’re already thinking you might be hacked. Or maybe your best efforts still didn’t ward off those pesky attacks. Here’s how to know if your email is hacked:
1. Unusual account activity.
This is what we mean by “something funky.” Watch out for:
- Unfamiliar emails in your sent folder
- Large amounts of spam in your inbox
- Unauthorized changes to your account settings, such as forwarding rules, auto-replies or linked accounts
Any of these could be signs of an email hack.
2. Password change notifications.
Receiving notifications about password changes that you didn’t initiate is often a clear indication of unauthorized access. Additionally, if your typical password isn’t working, something could be up.
3. Your colleagues, friends and family are confused.
“Uh… I just got an email from you trying to sell me cheap Raybans.”
Those are words no one wants to hear. If your contacts start notifying you of suspicious emails from your account, it could be a sign that a hacker is involved.
4. Unauthorized access to other accounts.
We often use our email addresses to log into other third-party apps or services (social media, workplace tools, etc). Unusual activity from those accounts could signal a hacking problem from your email.
Damage Control: 5 Things To Do If You Suspect Your Email Has Been Hacked
Are those signs ringing true? Don’t panic. Here’s what to do if your email is hacked:
1. Change your password immediately.
If the person who hacked into your email hasn’t changed your password, you’re in luck! Log in to reset your password and make it extra strong.
2. Notify your colleagues, family and friends.
Try not to let the impact of your hack spread! Let your contacts know about the incident so they can be on the lookout for any suspicious emails or activity coming from your account.
3. Reverse unauthorized changes to your account.
Remember those third-party apps and services that might be connected to your email account? Review and revoke access for them to prevent further unauthorized access. Make sure to reverse any forwarding rules or auto-replies that you didn’t set up.
4. Scan your devices for malware and/or viruses.
Look into software that helps you run an antivirus and antimalware scan on your device. This will help ensure that no malicious software made its way onto your computer from the breach.
5. Reach out to your email service provider.
It can be helpful to report the email hack to your email service provider. The provider can either a.) help you get your settings back to normal or b.) use the information to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Private, Secure and Anonymous Online Browsing with No-IP
Ready to prioritize your online security?
No-IP has partnered with IPVanish to provide customers with a privacy and security-focused VPN service — with 77% savings for No-IP Customers! Click here to learn more about safeguarding your online privacy.