What to do the first hour after you've been hacked

The moment you realise it happened is the worst. You’re locked out of your email address and you don’t what to do. Panic, dread, and helplessness are the only things you feel.

Yes, you’ve been hacked, but now is the time to act.

If you act swiftly and rationally you can clear up this mess in a matter of hours.

Here are the first things you should do to minimise the damage a hack does to your life.

Get your account back

The form you fill out to begin reclaiming your Google account

If you're locked out of your account, the first thing you need to do is get it back. You do this by contacting the service provider, be it Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They all have forms and numbers you can call to regain control. But the quicker you do this the less damage that gets done.

Change all your passwords

Here are the top 10 worst passwords

Once you have all your accounts back, change all the passwords. Don't iterate on old passwords. Instead, make long and very difficult passwords. Include different cases, letters, numbers, and symbols.

Hackers do attacks called 'brute force' where they try to guess passwords using trial and error. Despite how arduous it sounds it's insanely effective. The way to avoid being hacked by a brute force attack is to have a password that is long, difficult, and not based on a word in the dictionary.

Check your settings

The email forwarding tab on Gmail's settings page

If this happened to your email make sure the hackers didn't set up a forwarding service so that they would get your emails.

Notify everyone

It's likely the hackers tried to do further damage to those around you. You should contact all those close to you to let them know what happened and make sure they don't click on any messages the hackers sent while they were masquerading as you.

Update everything

There's a chance the hackers gained access to you via your machine. To avoid this in the future, update all of your software.

Un-connect all of your apps, extensions, and connected accounts

These are Chrome extensions, found in settings, that should be disabled after being hacked

Is your Google account linked to another email address? Is your Facebook linked to a Medium account? If any of these have been hacked, make sure they are no longer connected. If hackers have access to just one of these, they can easily go into these other services too.

Perform a scan

Find a free, good virus scanner. This will get rid of any potential malware downloaded on your system. Programs like Avast and Bitdefender are both considered solid malware defence products.

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