Recently I received a notification from Google, someone supposedly from Taiwan was attempting to access my account. Shortly thereafter I got three more notifications from other services I used telling me someone was trying to access my accounts. Puzzled as to what was going on I headed over to https://haveibeenpwned.com/ this is a website designed to find out if your information has been leaked online somewhere. Hackers often target services that hold a lot of information on people such as names, phone numbers and so on. By putting my email into this website I discovered that six different services I used had been breached and had data stolen, some of my data was among this.
Now fortunately I use different passwords for most things as well as two factor authentication so they were unable to gain access to anything important. But it set me off on a spree of beefing up my security and double checking everything was in order. It also made me think about what I should do if I do get hacked and access to my accounts is gained by someone nefarious. Below i’ll outline 6 major points that I recommend following should you be the victim of a hacking.
1. Change Your Passwords
This is the most obvious and first thing that you should do. Think if you use the same password as the account that has been hacked for any other website or service, if you do then you need to go there and change it immediately. One of the most common ways people suffer from a hack is by using the same password on every website they visit. I have been guilty of using the same passwords multiple times myself and it’s a bad habit. Now this might not matter so much if you’re using the same passwords for let’s say a random forum or message board on which you don’t have any sensitive information but it’s good practice to get in the habit of using different and strong passwords for everything, changing one or two characters doesn’t really count.
2. Perform a Virus Scan
When things are going wrong with your computer it’s never a bad idea to conduct a scan. It’s a good idea to do this regularly even if everything has been smooth sailing, you always want to stay on top of things and catch any malware early on and potentially reduce the damage it could cause to your system. Key loggers are a type of malware that records your keyboard inputs and sends them to a hacker, they can find out login information this way. But a virus scan should pick any of these up and thwart them.
3. Consider Using a Password Manager
For those of us who have dozens or even hundreds of different accounts online managing all those passwords can be a herculean task. Password managers are a great tool to take the pressure off you in remembering all of them. In a future article we will cover password managers more in depth and really go over them with a fine toothed comb but for now all you need to know is that they work and they are safe to use. They will create very strong random passwords for you and remember them, they are encrypted so it would be almost impossible for a hacker to gain access. The most popular password manager is https://1password.com/ but there are dozens to choose from.
4. Check Your Bank
One of the most important accounts you can have online is one with your bank. We have a whole article on how to bank safely online (https://thetechteamit.wpengine.com/how-to-stay-safe-when-banking-online/) and if you follow the practices we lay out in this article it’s highly unlikely that you’ll run into any trouble however it’s always worth having a good look at your statements if any of your accounts are compromised, better safe than sorry.
5. Enable Two Factor Authentication
Many services, especially email providers and banks will often offer two factor authentication. Two factor authentication just means that when logging into your account instead of just providing one piece of evidence you are who you say you are, such a password. You now have to prove you’re the account owner in two ways. For example many services could text you a unique code to your phone number that you must input in a certain amount of time to login, usually 60 seconds. It’s unlikely that a hacker will be able to get both your password and access to your phone. This could be the subject of a future article so keep your eyes peeled.
6. Think About How This Might Have Happened
The best way to prevent a hack happening again is to know how it happened in the first place. A virus scan might be a quick answer to this if it manages to find anything malicious but a virus is not always the culprit. Did you use the same passwords for multiple accounts? Did you check if your data was breached (by using https://haveibeenpwned.com/)? Did you click on a dodgy link? Did you accidentally give information to someone who claimed to be someone else? These are all questions you should be asking yourself if you want to be a step ahead of the hackers next time.
Remember as long as you follow good practices, many of which we discuss in our articles then it’s unlikely you will get hacked and lose anything important but even so it doesn’t make you 100% immune to hackers. So there’s no need to be constantly worrying about it but it’s wise to keep these things in mind just in case. Thanks for reading, happy browsing and stay safe.