Was your email hacked? Here’s how to stop your email account getting hacked

Follow these 9 tips to minimise the chances of your email account being accessed by hackers.

Posted on 07 October 2015 - Email
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Has your email account been hacked? Much like car crashes, hacked email accounts are usually down to user error. 

Sure, there are unscrupulous types going out of there way to hack into email accounts, but more often than not they are only successful because of a mistake made by the email account’s rightful owner.

For that reason, taking these very simple security measures will dramatically reduce the risk of your email account being hacked.

1. Use a strong password

The starting point and most important factor in ensuring that your email account is not hacked is to pick a strong password. What is a strong password? Well, we’ve been conditioned to think that it needs to be at least eight characters and include uppercase characters, numbers and special characters.

In fact, that type of password is usually difficult to remember and fairly easy to crack. Instead, think about picking four common but random words. For example, duck, milky, bread, shoes.

Despite being a hard password to crack, ‘duckmilkybreadshoes’ is an easy password to remember. You might already have a mental image of a bill-faced fellow in doughy footwear.

For additional complexity, you could pick three words and a memorable number, choose to separate each component with underscores and put one of the words in uppercase. So, ‘3704_milky_bread_SHOES’ would be a very strong password.

You can use howsecureismypassword.net to experiment with good passwords, though, as the site itself points out, be careful about where you’re typing any of your actual passwords.

2. Don’t use the same password on different sites

Don’t use the same password for your email that you use for your online banking, social media accounts or other websites.

3. Don’t share passwords or write them down

Writing down a password instantly defeats the object. If you lose the paper on which the password is written, you’re giving someone instant access to your account. Equally, you shouldn’t share your password with other people. Even if you trust them, can you guarantee they will follow the security measures in this list as closely as you?

4. Log out at the end of every session

Don’t just close the browser or shut down the machine. Make sure you log out of your email account when you’re finished.

5. Change your password every four weeks

No password is unbreakable if the automated systems used by hackers are given enough time, so change your password once a month to limit the chances of it being guessed.

6. Don’t rotate your passwords

Following on from the point above, don’t return to old passwords that you have used in the past. This negates the benefits of regularly changing your password.

7. Don’t click on email links from your bank

A bank will never send an email asking you to click a link. It is very easy for hackers to create emails that appear to be from trusted sources, so always exercise caution before clicking a link. Instead, simply access the site in question by putting its web address directly into your browser.

8. Never open unexpected attachments

Similarly to clicking links, exercise a great deal of caution before opening an attachment. Were you expecting this email and its attachment? Do you usually receive this type of email from this sender? Don’t open unless you’re 100% certain you can trust the source (remember, the person you’re receiving the email from might have had their email account hacked).

9. Use anti-virus software on every machine

Using up-to-date anti-virus software may offer some protection against your account being hacked in the first place and make it more likely you’ll realise you’ve been hacked. For example, the software will probably recognise is mass emails are being sent from your account.

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