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How do I know if my email account has been hijacked?
This week I just wanted to talk a bit about email hijackers. Put simply this is when you find out your email account has been sending emails to your contacts that you didn’t type, or weren’t even there to send.
Now when this happens it’s the usual response by people to believe that their computer itself has been hacked. Not that this is in all cases wrong; there are many viruses out there made with the intent to take control of your computer and cause all sorts of mischief without your consent. However it is just as common for control over your account to be lost to a much simpler method of stealing away your account details, many times by the method of hacking known as Social Engineering. Social Engineering is typically used by scammers to get you to directly tell them your account info, giving them access to your account.
For example, anytime you get a fake email from a site telling you that your account is in trouble or needs to be reset, and to fix this issue the messenger needs your account details to be typed up and sent to them, this is an act of Social Engineering. It’s an easy and common method of gaining information, and the complexity of the engineering itself varies greatly. It can be as simple as an obviously unofficial email address asking for an account you may not even have, or as detailed as a complete page and a link redirect from an official sounding source.
The good news is that for almost all acts of Social Engineering, the cure is a good helping of caution. It is important to remember that an email provider will never ask you for your account details via email, and will very rarely link you to other webpages to enter your information. It is also important to take the time to set up the protection services email providers provide, such as redundant email addresses and security questions. In situations where you have lost control of your account these are invaluable to getting your account back quickly.