For many people, the first sign that their email has been hacked comes when a friend shoots them a text or an email saying, “Hey there. Uh… I think your email was hacked… unless you meant to send me that link to the Viagra store.” Or you might figure it out because you can no longer log in to your account, or your smartphone can’t retrieve your messages. Or maybe you can log in to your email, but find that your inbox is suddenly empty and all of your contacts have been deleted. No matter what tips you off, when your email is hacked (notice I say when, not if, here), the impact can be disastrous.
The fact is, despite Twitter, Facebook and texting, we still rely on email for most business and personal interactions. So it can be pretty disquieting when inexplicable things start to happen to our email accounts, or our access to email is blocked. When these things happen, we can’t just will them away or delude ourselves into thinking that our computer is simply having a bad day. They could well be manifestations of email hijacking, which often is the prelude to identity theft. So your response should not be “Oh God,” but rather, “Houston, we have a problem.”
There are plenty of things you can do to minimize the risk of having your email hacked, as we’ve covered in the past. And if you’re worried about how to spot suspicious emails in your inbox, there are plenty of telltale signs. Nevertheless, these days nothing is foolproof and nobody is perfect, so the likelihood that you will be exposed to a phishing scam at some point is relatively high. The question is what do you do when it does eventually happen, to keep both you and your friends safe. With that in mind, we offer these tips: