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How can I tell if my email has been hacked?

Mar 04, 2020 · 4 min read

How can I tell if my email has been hacked?

You type your password in, or the form autofills, and you log in – “password incorrect.” But you could've sworn… Has your email been hacked? Our tips in this post will bolster your virtual defences so you never have to face the terrifying prospect of someone hacking your email.

What are the signs of a hacked email?

The obvious sign would be not being able to access your account with your password. If the usual recovery methods aren’t helping you get into your account, then contacting your service’s customer support will be the only way to regain control.

Some hackers will maintain your password so they’re harder to detect. What are the telltale signs that your email has been hijacked for more nefarious purposes?

  • Emails you didn’t send. Have some of your contacts complained about receiving spam and does your ‘sent’ folder contain emails that you don’t recall writing? These could include mass-send emails that were forwarded on to everyone in your contacts List. Now might be the time to check if your email provider offers the option to restore deleted mail.
  • Password change confirmations you didn’t ask for. Have you received emails informing you of any password changes you didn’t ask for? Most services will send confirmation emails through to a secondary address as a security measure. This could be a sign that the hacker is trying to take over another one of your accounts.
  • Check your login activity. Many email services let you see the IP addresses that your account was accessed from. Have you found that someone logged in from an IP halfway across the globe? That might be a clear sign you’ve been hacked. Keep in mind, however, that using a VPN to change your location may provide a false positive.

What to do if your email has been hacked

    1. First things first – change your passwords. Utilizing a password app like Nordpass will store and autofill all complicated, cryptic passwords. And if your password shows up on this list, then make sure you rectify that immediately.
    2. Contact your banks and credit agencies. If you don’t maintain your inbox, there could be a lot of credit card and banking information available for any wandering eyes. Check your accounts. Have any bizarre transactions taken place without your permission? Contact your bank immediately and inform them of the situation. With luck, your money should be back with you reasonably soon.
    3. Has your email address been used as a springboard for a phishing email campaign? Let all your contacts know you have been hacked – some may have automatically blocked you as soon as it became apparent your email was compromised.

How do I stop my email from getting hacked again?

It’s now all on you to never let this happen again – time to change all your passwords. Still using the same three passwords you’ve had since making that first email address over a decade ago? Below are some tips for how to make a strong password:

  • Don't use your birthdate or any variation of it. This will be one of the first things a hacker will try. Just don’t use any birth dates in general.
  • Don’t use your name.
  • Don’t use passwords that correspond with a specific keyboard pattern, e.g. ‘QWERTY’ or ‘Q1W2E3R4’ or ‘12345.’
  • Don’t use the same password for everything you sign up for – you’re just making it easier for any potential hackers.
  • Don’t use the word ‘Password’!
  • Do check your password strength. Most services that require you to create an account will have a strength-analyzer – it’ll typically advise you to choose a combination of upper and lowercase letters mixed with symbols and numbers. The hints are there for a reason, Listen to them!

So you’ve changed your passwords, what’s next? It’s all about knowledge and education. Learn about internet safety – how to keep your personal details safe and away from any prying eyes.

  • Use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN will keep your online traffic completed encrypted, protecting your private information from anyone with questionable motives. NordVPN provides the widest-reaching coverage with server’s located across the globe – along with implementing military-grade encryption while doing so.
  • Think twice about your app choices. According to a 2017 report by Webroot, 32% of free content was viewed as malicious in nature. Look at the reviews, do they seem legitimate? If not, think twice about adding it to your device.
  • Apply two-factor authentication. This kind of security practice compels you to provide two forms of verification to access the desired account. Using a bank card number (something you possess) alongside a PIN code (something you know) would be a good example of this.
  • Change your security questions. As horrible as it is to consider, the person who hacked into your account – and potentially acquired banking details – may have been someone close to you.

It all boils down to educating yourself. Once you’re clued in to these security aspects and apply them to your accounts, breaking into your email address will be much harder.

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Charles Whitmore
Charles Whitmore successVerified author

Charles is a content writer with a passion for online privacy and freedom of knowledge. A technophile with a weakness for full Smart Home integration – he believes everyone should strive to keep up-to-date with their cybersec.


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