Cybersecurity has never been more important than it is today. With so many of us working fully remotely online, and so many more of us working in a hybrid capacity, a huge proportion of our workspaces exist solely on the internet. That means that we are ever more vulnerable to the attempts of hackers and spammers.
Putting in place plenty of cybersecurity measures to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data is important, and well worth doing. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, clever hackers will find a way to access our systems or information in spite of our best attempts at thwarting them.
So what actions can you take once you have been hacked? In this article we will take a look at what to do when you have been hacked, and how you can protect yourself online in the future so it doesn’t happen again.
In-person and online transactions always run the risk of exposing you to credit card theft. If hackers do access your credit card details and think they can get away with using your card for their own purposes, they can think again. Here’s what to do if your credit card gets hacked.
Email account breaches are actually much more difficult to manage than a credit card hack. Whether it is your personal or company credit card, you just need to get in touch with your bank and alert them that your card has been stolen. They will cancel any fraudulent charges and freeze the account before issuing you a new card.
When there is a major security breach in a credit card company, experts will advise you to set up a fraud alert and extra layers of verification when you open a new account. They may tell you to freeze your credit and caution against shopping at suspicious retail outlets both online and offline.
Perhaps counterintuitively, shopping with mobile pay (ApplePay, GooglePay, or Paypal) is more secure than shopping with a credit card. As long as your smartphone is secured with fingerprint authentication, you will be able to protect your financial details this way.
Another preventive measure you can take to secure both your credit cards and email account is to browse the web using a VPN. A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, anonymizes your online interactions and masks your geolocation, so prying eyes will physically not be able to identify where you are located in the world. They will also not be able to see the content of your interactions, which also means your financial details will be more secure.
If your email account has been hacked, regaining access can be a tricky process. Hopefully you have had the foresight beforehand to create multiple email addresses, activate multi factor authentication, and set security questions that only you would know the answers to.
You will need to get in touch with your email provider to prove to them that you are the actual owner of the email account. If a hacker has accessed your email account and changed your passwords then you won’t be able to use that email to get in touch with your email provider. Instead, try contacting them from a different account. (You should always have a backup email on record for security purposes; if the email provider notices a suspicious login attempt or unusual activity on one account they can then email you on another one to alert you of the possible risk.)
Losing access to your primary email account can have other detrimental effects. Since your email is the main source of communication with all of your other accounts, this is the central hub where websites will send password reset links for all of your other logins across the internet.
Whichever sites you have logged into with your email address as your username, those are now easily accessible to the spammer in charge of your inbox. With a simple password reset request they can now access many of your logins, and will therefore have access to your personal, financial, business-related, and health-related details.
So regaining access to your email account is the first thing you should do once you suspect you have been hacked. After that, go through and change the password of every account associated with that email address.
Invest in a good password manager to help you securely keep track of all of your unique passwords. And always follow good password hygiene. Never use duplicate or easy to guess passwords. Instead, create a unique and random-seeming string of letters and numbers for each separate account. The harder it is for hackers to guess your password, the more difficulty they will have accessing your account in the first place.
Protecting yourself against hackers is a matter of constant awareness and knowledge. Hackers will use a number of sophisticated techniques to try to gain access to your accounts, so learning about common phishing or spyware schemes is a good proactive measure to take. If a social media message, email, or website seems suspicious or rings alarm bells, take a moment to plug that name or key phrase into a search on the internet. If it is a common scam scheme then you will find results warning you away from interacting with it.
System updates may seem like a bit of an annoyance, but they are essential and should not be ignored. Just as hackers and spammers get increasingly sophisticated in their approaches, so too do IT experts work to improve the security of your apps, devices, and systems. Regularly downloading system updates is a good way to stay on top of the latest technological updates to help keep your system secure.
Maintaining awareness of what kinds of information you are sharing, with whom, where, and why can go a long way towards keeping your information away from bad actors. Never enter sensitive personal details on any site that does not seem legitimate.
If you do not understand why a particular website needs a specific personal piece of information, like your company address, your social security number, or your credit card details, pause, investigate, and don’t act any further until you have verified the legitimacy of the request. Using your common sense and trusting your intuitive sense when something seems off is a smart approach to preventing your accounts from being hacked.
If and when you do get hacked, take steps quickly to regain access to your account, change all your passwords and login details, and freeze any personal or company accounts that may have been compromised. Then take some time to reset all of your security protocols, making sure you have the latest security measures in place to protect your accounts going forward.