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Hacked off with security

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Posted on 04 September 2018 in Help & advice

We have all experienced the situation at some point, your friend says you have been sending odd emails to them or posting spam material on their social media which you’d normally be unlikely to do. When you hear this you are quite likely to realise what has happened, your account has been compromised, or in other words ‘Hacked’. 

We would like to think this is just a ‘computer blip’ but in reality it is something that should be taken seriously. A hacked account could lead to a host of other, often more serious issues such as ID Theft, privacy and security risks, which could in turn compromise your finances and/or reputation.

Before you hit the PANIC button, take a few moments to breathe, and follow these easy steps;

Step 1, Change your Password

Often you have been the victim of a hack because your password is weak and easy for the hacker to guess. Once the hacker has the correct password they will also try using the same combination on other accounts. Most times the hackers don’t change the passwords so to prevent further attacks from taking place change it for all your devices across all your accounts.

Tips for password security:

  • Everyone needs a Password Manager – try LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane
  • Passwords should be different for each online account you use
  •  Passwords should never be revealed to others 
  • Change your passwords at the first sign of suspicion 
  • Make your passwords complex by adding uppercase lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
  • Passwords should not be predictable

You can also use 2 step verification, the extra step would require a special code to be sent to your phone whenever account settings are changed, so only you can access the code and get in.

Step 2, Check your settings

Scan your account settings and check if anything was changed. Hackers could potentially have your emails forwarded to them, which would easily enable them to obtain log in information and get hold of email addresses on your contacts list. Check that no suspect looking changes have been made to your email signature too.

Top tip – send a message to your contacts to inform them that your email has been hacked and advise them to ignore any suspect looking emails or posts coming from you, or showing your name, until you let them know you have resolved the issue, warn them about clicking on any sent links and request that they delete such emails.

Step 3, Scan your devices including computer, phone or other devices for malware

Running a malware scan should be a routine operation. When your account is hacked, make sure you check ASAP for malware or the remains of malware that could still be active in your PC.

Top tip – if your malware scans detected malware change your passwords again and re-check your settings, changing your passwords without cleaning the system may not lock the hackers out if the malware is sending them new access ‘keys’.

Step 4, Put preventative measures in place

Keep the hackers off! Don’t let them in again. Start by avoiding any phishing emails, or links with attachments found in them that you are not expecting. Remember to be vigilant for such links on social media as well. Downloading these links can lead to the download of malware on your device!

Top tip - always use secure and private networks. This can assist with preventing hackers from getting onto your network

Limit what you share and the information you put on social media networks, Hackers and ID thieves are quick to gather personal details so keep them private. 

Use bookmarks on your trusted websites, such as online shopping and sites you frequent to prevent you landing accidentally on the wrong website where hackers can put in in malicious code or links that look like the real deal but actually phish for information.

Step 5, Update your software and hardware frequently

A popular misconception is that software updates make a computer more vulnerable to cyberattacks. In fact, it is the opposite. Outdated computers are more prone to cyberattacks and security loopholes as they do not have the capabilities to handle sophisticated attacks perpetrated using the latest technologies. 

Software updates correct bugs and vulnerabilities from the previous version which is a key factor in thwarting attacks. Hackers are constantly scanning computers for vulnerabilities, so if you allow weak spots to go unchecked you’re only increasing the chances of getting attacked.

Step 6, Encrypt and backup your sensitive data

If you are a business, you’ll be storing sensitive information such as your customers’ data, your financial statements and more. This data could have negative implications for your business if it falls into the wrong hands. 

One way to reduce the chances of hackers accessing your data is to encrypt it and store in the cloud. If a hacker was to get into the cloud provider they would only see encrypted data rendering it useless without the decryption key that you have safely stored elsewhere.

Need help securing your IT network and updating your settings?  Newman Business Solutions have IT specialist services to help you implement these measures.  So if you are ‘Hacked off’ or looking for a robust solution call us on 01892 664155

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