At some point or another, individuals who use computers can encounter many different issues - including viruses and malware attacks - that can drastically affect the performance of software programs and even the computer itself. The same can be said with issues involving the internet.
One common problem among individuals is discovering that their email account has either been hacked or spoofed. This is something serious that can cause a lot of issues if not resolved as quickly as possible. These issues can affect not only these individuals themselves, but also the recipients of emails from a hacked or spoofed account.
An email account hack is when an outside individual uses illegal methods to purposely access your account and send messages from it for a few reasons: their own pleasure, if money is involved, and their own personal reasons. These hacks can occur when any contacts of yours receive emails that you did not actually send, which can also be found in your account "sent" folder.
As a result, you can lose personal and private information via such issues as a malware infection or a data breach.
The following are signs that can indicate that your email account has been hacked.
- Changes of any kind have been made to the information of your email account.
- Looking at your account's "login activity" page, you notice logins from places that you don't recognize.
- You notice multiple "failed delivery" messages in your account's "sent" folder and/or your email inbox.
- You fail to receive emails that you may be expecting from family, friends, or business contacts.
- You receive notification from one or more of your contacts regarding emails that you never actually sent.
Email account spoofing, however, is quite different.
This is when spammers will access your email account and send out emails from it to any and/or all of your contacts. These particular emails will seem like the message is coming from you and will usually contain spam links that, if clicked on, can cause viruses to infect a computer, among other issues.
While these emails will contain your email address in the "from" field, the messages themselves will actually originate from the email server of the spammer. Generally, the messages will appear in your own inbox as "mailer daemon" messages, which means the emails have been returned to you. This is due to the spammers changing the email header's "from" address, which will make it appear as though the spam messages originated from your email address, which will cause them to be bounced right back to you, hence the "mailer daemon" message.
There are two main ways to tell if your email account has been spoofed.
- As previously mentioned, you receive multiple "mailer daemon" messages in your inbox.
- The email that was sent contains only your email address instead of your name.
If you find that your email account has been hacked, make note of - and follow - these necessary steps in order to correct the issue, as well as prevent it from occurring again.
- First and foremost, change your email password immediately. When doing this, it's best to come up with a password comprised of letters (both capitalized and lowercase), numbers, and symbols rather than using real words, which will make it both more unique and harder for a hacker to figure out.
- Report the hacking issues to your internet service provider immediately. They will be able to assist local law enforcement in tracking down the person(s) responsible for the hacking.
- Send out messages to all of your contacts informing them that your account recently fell victim to a hacker and that they may have received messages that you did not personally send to them. Inform them that they should delete these messages immediately rather than opening them, as doing so may cause malware or other virus issues to infect their computer.
- Ensure that your computer's anti-virus software is completely up-to-date, especially if you suspect that your computer may have been infected as a result of the hack. You may also choose to employ the uses of other types of virus scanners and removers.
- Consider setting up a security question that you must answer whenever logging in to your email address. Make sure that it's one with an answer that can't be easily guessed by anyone else.
Furthermore, if you find that you have become the victim of an email spoofing, take these following precautions to remedy the situation and prevent it from happening a second time.
- As with issues involving email hacking, the most important step you can take is to immediately change your password to one that will be more secure and harder to figure out.
- Contact your internet service provider immediately and report the spoofing issue to them. They will likely be able to track down the IP address of the spammer(s) if you are unable to.
- Using your email account settings, enable filtering for both sending and receiving mail. This will further help keep and spam messages from appearing in your inbox, as well as being sent from your account.
- Use your email account's "block" list to include the spammers, generally their email addresses and/or domain names, which will prevent them from being able to access your account.
Regardless of whether the situation involves hacking or spoofing, another sensible step to take regarding both issues is to completely delete the email address, especially if it's one that you barely use very much. However, if your email address is used for business or other similar purposes, your best bet will be to follow any or all of the above steps in order to avoid a repeat of the incidents.
In the end, you will definitely want to constantly pay attention to your email account in order to ensure that these sorts of issues do not arise.
In addition, always pay attention to your virus scanning software and always ensure that it is up-to-date, as this is another essential tool that will prevent attacks that come from email hacking and spoofing.
The most important thing, in the end, is to fully protect your email account; therefore, following all of the aforementioned suggestions will undoubtedly help you keep your email account safe for a long time.