It's that feeling in your stomach, that knot, that sick feeling. You've tried to log into your social media account or email, and it says "password incorrect". You retype the password again and again making sure caps lock is off, and every character is correct, but despite this, you can't get in. You've been hacked!
The realisation that someone else now has control of your personal information, photos, emails, contacts and a whole host of other information is horrible.
Staring at the screen won't help though, you need to act, and you need to do it right now. Here are our top tips for what you can do if you have been hacked:
Ask for help
Despite what you may see in the news none of the big social media companies or tech giants wants hackers on their systems. Most have recovery pagesto allow you to take back control. A quick search on the internet will point you in the right direction, but we have added some links here as well.
If you do search for any other platform make sure you are taken to their official page, it's bad enough being hacked. We wouldn't want to make it worse now, would we?
Every platform and service is different so follow the instructions from them to take back control of your lost account.
Time to change your passwords
Whichever account you lost control of will probably have now had a password change as part of the recovery system which is excellent, but what about other apps and programs? Did you use your old password for something else?
Passwords are usually the weakest link when it comes to cyber security. It can be so difficult to remember all those different passwords. Many companies now have password keepers built into their products. You might also want to consider purchasing a standalone password keeper app.
Another step to take, if the service allows, is to switch on two-factor authentication. When enabled, the website or app will ask you for a unique code sent by text message, email or generated by an authentication app.
Understand more about password management with our Guide to Managing Passwords.
So you have recovered your account, changed your password and stepped up your security. Time to relax? Not quite!
Now is the time to undertake a review of everything else.
Check your email settings and malware protection
If your email account was compromised, check your settings. Has forwarding been set up without so that others can read your emails?
Run a virus check and malware scan to make sure that no one has installed something on to your computer without your knowledge.
If you use a social media account to log into other apps and websites, i.e. you use your Facebook login to access Strava, or similar, think about making unique passwords for each. This means that if you do get hacked again only one system will be compromised.
If you think that the hacker may have managed to access any of your banking information, then get in touch with your bank straight away. We know it's frustrating waiting for new cards and P.I.N. numbers, but it's far better than ending up with an empty bank account!
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