As our world becomes more digital, we find ourselves creating many accounts for different online services. One of these accounts can be the target of a cybercriminal. If you find yourself logged out of one of your accounts unexpectedly, that can be a sign that your account has been compromised. Security notices of login attempts from strange locations and at unusual times are also signs that your account may have been accessed by cybercriminals. Having a hacked account can be stressful, but there are steps you can take to securely recover your account and prevent it from getting compromised again.
- Step One: Attempt to access your account
If you are logged out of an account unexpectedly, such as being logged out of an account that you usually do not log out of, go to your account’s recovery page, usually found under “need help” or “settings”. Then, answer the security questions in place to help recover your account.
- Step Two: Contact the provider of your account
Whether you have lost access to your email account (for example, if you locked yourself out by too many wrong password attempts) or you suspect your account may have fallen into the hands of a cybercriminal, reporting it to your provider is extremely important. Service providers can offer more insight into how your account may have been comprised. Reporting it can also help them keep track of other suspicious online behavior.
- Step Three: Change your passphrases and passwords
A strong password or passphrase is the first line of defense against an unauthorized user accessing your accounts. A common way a cybercriminal may attempt to take over your account is by guessing your password, which is easier to obtain if your password is weak. If possible, use a strong and unique passphrase instead of a password. Passphrases combine four or more random words and a minimum of 15 characters.
- Step Four: Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds another layer of authentication to help secure your accounts from being accessed by anyone but yourself. Enabling MFA can protect your account information from bots, phishing, and other cyber threats. MFA focuses on security features that are unique to you, such as a PIN, a security question, or your fingerprint. It helps protect your information even if your password has been compromised.
Recovering a hacked account is never fun and may seem like a difficult task. But following these steps can help help you recover your account and using strong passphrases and enabling MFA are some of the ways that can prevent it from getting compromised again.
*Article was written by getcybersafe.gc.ca