All this talk about how everybody is vulnerable to being hacked; how do I find out if it happened to me?

The Director of the FBI famously said that all the big companies in the country have been hacked, some just don’t know it yet. Strong words. With such widespread criminal behavior, against heavily protected organizations, it makes sense that every person with a computer should know how to figure out if he or she have been hacked.

You may have been hacked if:

  • There are posts on Facebook, Twitter or other social media from your account that you didn’t write.
  • A friend or family member says they received an email from you that you didn’t send.
  • Someone calls your mobile phone saying they are returning a call you didn’t make.

If you believe your account has been hacked, first diagnose the problem by determining which accounts are affected and the specific action performed on those accounts. Change your passwords to “long and strong” new ones, or in the case of your mobile phone, request a new SIM card. Then notify your friends and family that your account may have been hacked and to be on guard against a fraud. If you believe your computer or device has been hacked, run a malware checker or other detection tool to get it cleaned up.

If you suspect that your banking accounts (including debit or credit cards) have been hacked, notify the bank immediately to block those accounts from further fraudulent activity.

What to do if your account is taken over and you can’t change the password

Skilled hackers will try to take over your account and change the controlling email account so you can’t change your password on your own. (This is why we recommend you use a 2-factor email provider and that passwords are not shared by other online accounts.) If this happens, then your only recourse is to contact the support desk from the account(s) affected.

All the major web sites have people on staff to help with these problems. You can search for the particular support desk for your problem, or simply call their support number.