How to know if your YouTube account is hacked
Is your YouTube account hacked? If you notice any of the following, your Google Account may have been compromised:
- Changes to your account and settings that you didn’t make. If your login details, profile picture, descriptions, AdSense profile, or anything else suddenly changes, and if you have no memory of making that change, you might have been hacked.
- Uploads that you don’t recognize. If videos or community posts appear without you uploading them, this probably means someone else has access to your YouTube account.
- Comments you didn’t write. When accounts are hacked, a common move is to use them to post comments under videos, usually with links to unsafe websites. If you get notifications about people responding to or interacting with comments from your channel, and you don’t recall posting those comments, this is a major red flag.
- Changes to other Google setting and profiles. Your YouTube Account is accessed via a Google Account, so if you notice unexplained activity or warning signs on other platforms — in your Gmail account, for example — this could indicate that your whole Google Account is compromised. By extension, that means hackers could also have access to your YouTube account.
What happens when YouTube is hacked?
When your YouTube account is hacked, hackers can use your account to launch attacks against other users. If you run a channel with subscribers, a cybercriminal could target them with suspicious links and URLs, to try and lure them into downloading malware. If they believe they’re interacting with you, your contacts and subscribers could end up being scammed or hacked themselves.
If your YouTube account is compromised, it’s probably because your Google Account password was cracked, or because your login information was exposed. This could be the result of a larger data breach, or it might have happened after you inadvertently exposed your information in a phishing attack.
How to fix a hacked YouTube account
Is your YouTube channel hacked? Well, if you still have access to your account, it’s time to change your Google password. It’s always a pain to have to go through the password change process — if you use a password manager, it will suggest a unique and strong password, saving you the trouble of having to think of one yourself.
If you can still sign into your YouTube account
If you still have access to your YouTube account, you can change your password with these steps:
- Open your Google Account and sign in.
- Under “Security,” select “Signing in to Google.”
- Choose “Password.” You might be prompted to sign in again.
- Enter your new password and select “Change password.”
Hackers currently using your YouTube account should now be expelled and prompted to sign back in. When they try to do so, they won’t know your new password.
If you can’t sign into your YouTube account
Most hackers will lock you out of your account once they have access to it. If you can’t log in, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the Google Account recovery page.
- Input the email address associated with your account.
- Select the email you want to use for authentication.
- Once you receive the verification code, which will be sent to your backup email, you can input this to confirm your identity.
- When prompted, input and confirm your new Google Account password.
If you did not set up a backup email, or you did not have access to it, use one of the other authentication methods available, like sending a prompt via your smartphone. Following these steps will reset the password for your entire Google Account, of which YouTube is a part. If a hacker has previously broken into your account, they will now be locked out until they enter the new password.
What if you can’t recover your YouTube account?
If you don’t have adequate recovery methods in place, or if you no longer have access to the emails and devices you set up for authentication, you may not be able to recover your account. In this scenario, your options for what to do next are fairly limited.
To make sure you can always recover your account successfully, try to follow these steps:
- Set up a backup device for authentication, and make sure it is a device you always have access to, like a smartphone.
- Be careful when inputting passwords and security question answers, especially when thinking about capitalization.
- Make sure your account’s backup email is one you still regularly use and have access to; if you can’t log into the backup email, you might not be able to get your reset code.
- Create a replacement Google Account, and have it ready with all your up-to-date information in case your main account becomes inaccessible. This should reduce friction and disruption if you need to switch accounts.
How to report a hacked YouTube channel
If your YouTube account has been hacked and you can’t regain access, you should report it. To do so, follow these steps:
- Log into a YouTube account and view the channel page you want to report.
- At the top of the channel page, click “About.”
- Click “Report user.”
- If prompted, input additional information about why you are raising your report.
- Click “Submit.”
How do I prevent my YouTube account from being hacked?
The best weapon against hackers and cybercriminals is knowledge. If you’re aware of the risks, you can put together measures to prevent them from ever affecting you. Having said that, here are some measures that should be taken to keep your YouTube account safe.
Add or update account recovery options
The more ways YouTube has to authenticate your identity, the easier it will be to restore your account if you lose it. Make sure your recovery options are all updated whenever they change. For example, if you no longer have access to your backup email or device, make sure to add a new one.
Turn on two-step verification
Your Google Account supports two-step verification, also known as two-factor authentication, so set it up as soon as possible. Using two-step verification means that any time someone logs into your account, they must get pass a second layer of verification. This can involve a push notification sent to your device, an SMS message, or an email. This should prevent hackers from breaching your account, since they are unlikely to have access to the other devices and accounts used for verification.
Update your software regularly
Keep all your software updated across any devices you use. The YouTube app, your operating system, and all other software can become vulnerable to attacks over time, unless the latest security patches are installed. As a rule, you should download a new update as soon as it becomes available.
Use alternative video sites
YouTube is the second most-viewed website in the world — it’s no wonder that it’s so frequently abused by hackers. By using alternatives to YouTube, you’ll be reducing the size of the target on your back.
Use a VPN
If you regularly use unsecure public Wi-Fi, you could be putting yourself at risk of data unwanted exposure. However, if you redirect your traffic through a VPN server before connecting to dodgy Wi-Fi, your online activity will be nothing but gibberish to prying eyes. NordVPN also has the Threat Protection feature, which blocks ads and trackers and scans downloads for malware.