5 Signs for You to Check If Your Email Has Been Hacked in 2020

It’s an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of reality nowadays that a user’s private information is not really secure. Data leaks happen all the time, and the problem is exacerbated by the fact that said leaks are often badly reported, and their victims are rarely properly notified of the fact. In spite of the push by legislators in the US and the GDPR initiatives in the EU, companies are still likely to hide or delay releasing information about such important issues. This basically puts consumers in a situation where they can’t really be sure if their online presence is safe or not. There may have been a data breach a couple of weeks ago that exposed your account to undesirables, and you may not find out about it for a couple more weeks. There is not much that consumers can do in such a situation – one can’t really be expected to log off and delete all of their accounts, just because at some point said accounts might be jeopardized.

The solution is rather simple, if somewhat tedious, and annoying. Users need to keep a closer eye on their own accounts for any signs of suspicious activity. Here are the signs you should look for:

  1. One thing to definitely watch out for is untoward activity in your outbox – typically “Sent” and “Drafts” folders of your email, for emails you didn’t write. This is a dead giveaway that someone unauthorized has had access to your inbox – and that may be trouble.
  2. Messages that request or give permission for the changing of a password on this or another platform. Needless to say, if you receive similar suspicious messages, another one of your accounts has likely been compromised, and a malicious actor is probably trying to capitalize on that. You’d do well to take note of that fact, recognize the danger such an intrusion poses to your security and act accordingly.
  3. Suspicious activity in your inbox should also not go unheeded. If you see an email that seems to have been opened, and yet you don’t remember doing so – there’s a good chance that something fishy is going on, and you should be on your guard.
  4. Your “Trash” folder also deserves some attention, as hackers are likely to use it to try and cover their tracks while they go around snooping in your account. If you notice that there’s something in your trash folder that should not be there or something that you don’t remember putting there – be aware that your account may have been successfully breached.
  5. Another dead giveaway that your account has been under attack is the login times. They can usually be checked easily and usually come with such details as the timestamp of the user’s activities, the device that accessed the account, what IP address was the account accessed from, etc. Users should be aware that they can and should check such details because this is the quickest and easiest way to determine whether one’s account has been breached. If you notice that the account has registered any activity that originated from an unknown source, then you have definitive proof that it has been breached.

Proactive Steps you can Take to Secure Your Accounts

  1. Take the time to set up two-factor authentication on your accounts. 2FA may seem like another hassle in your already busy schedule, but this additional hoop that one has to jump through gives an unparalleled level of security. It is advisable that users take advantage of it whenever possible, at least on their most important accounts (business logins, paid accounts, accounts containing financial correspondence or information, etc.)
  2. Use a strong password. Using a unique and strong password on each individual login reduces the chances that one jeopardized account could lead to the breaching of one or more other logins. You may also want to invest in a password manager to save yourself the hassle of creating, remembering and inputting long, complex passwords.
  3. Take the time to regularly check if data for any one of your accounts has been leaked online. There are services that can allow you to do so quickly and reliably, such as https://haveibeenpwned.com/.
June 19, 2020

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