It seems almost inevitable that we will have our email hacked into at some point given the predictably frequency of large scale hacks.
While clearly it may be may be distressing and confusing it is possible to take back control.
There are a number of indicators that point to your Gmail account being hacked:
- Activity and spam in the account such as mails to and from unfamiliar organisations or individuals
- You receive a notification about an unusual sign-in or from a device that you don't recognise.
- You receive a notification that your username or password has changed and you didn’t make the change.
- You receive some other notification about some other type of activity you don’t recognise.
- There is a a red bar at the top of your screen that says, ‘We've detected suspicious activity in your account.’
Retrieving your account
If you can’t sign in to your account, Google provide an account recovery page
. You just need to answer the questions as best you can.
The account recovery page is helpful if:
- Someone changed your email information
- Someone deleted your account
- You can’t sign in for another reason
Try not to skip questions. If you're unsure of an answer, take your best guess rather than moving on to another question.
Here are some tips provided by Google to help you reclaim your account:
- Use a computer, phone, or tablet where you frequently sign in
- Use the same browser (like Chrome or Safari) that you usually do
- Be in a location where you usually sign in, like at home or at work
- Be exact with passwords and answers to security questions
- Avoid typos and pay attention to uppercase and lowercase letters.
Securing your account
When you get back into your email account enable two factor authentication. Every time you access your account after putting in your password you will then receive a PIN code on your mobile phone. You then need to enter this to access your account. It keeps hackers out of your account, unless they also have access to your mobile phone which in most cases is unlikely.
Also change your password.
- The longer the password the better. The more characters there are in your password the longer it will take for a hacker to break it, making it less likely they will continue trying.
- Use a mixture of numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters and special characters (punctuation) as it increases the complexity of your password and increases its strength.
- Do not use real words in your passwords. The majority of hacking attacks cycle through dictionary words, which means if you use a real word in your password it is more likely to be broken.
- The best passwords are a randomly generated strings of characters numbering 16 or more.