Zoom. Fitbit. LinkedIn. Twitter.
What do they all have in common? They’ve all been hacked on a major scale.
The list of companies getting hacked is long and growing, meaning that millions of email addresses and more, have been stolen from client databases that, as it turns out, weren’t as secure as we had all hoped.
And if you have an account with a company that’s been hacked and is in the news, there’s a good chance the hackers may have stolen your username and password.
And they’re very happy to have it.
If a company you do business with has been hacked, you need to think seriously about taking immediate measures to protect yourself. Sure, you could wait to see if there’s evidence that you’ve been hacked. But remember—it could take months for the news to come out, and even longer for you to see evidence yourself of being hacked, and in the meantime, your accounts could be at risk.
You can’t simply keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best—you must take control of the situation. And if you have been hacked, you must take fast, decisive action.
Here are the most important steps that you need to take, if you’ve been hacked or suspect that an organization you do business with has been attacked:
1. Change your passwords.
Hackers love stealing email addresses and passwords, because they know that most people are predictable and will use the same password for different accounts. If they get only the email address, they count on people using simple passwords that are easy to crack (1234, etc.).
That’s why you need to change the password you used for the company that’s been hacked as well as every other place you have used that password. (Does that sound like a hassle? Well, if you don’t use the same passwords for different accounts, it won’t be.) By changing passwords, you might avoid having your account hacked.
2. Scan your computer for viruses and malware.
If you believe hackers have somehow gotten into your email account, you need to find out if they’ve gotten into your computer with malware. You’ll want to run a security scan of your computer using a leading antivirus program and malware detector, which can help you find and eliminate any programs lurking on your hard drive, waiting to do more damage.
3. Reinstall your operating system and backup data.
If you suffered a legitimate hack on your system, you may want to consider reinstalling your operating system, wiping your hard drive clean and retrieving your backup files. Unless you’re technically savvy and comfortable with the idea, you may want to get help from an IT professional—someone you trust.
All back to normal
Those are the steps you’ll need to take if you suspect or know that your computer or personal information has been compromised.
To continue staying safe, it’s important to break old habits that put you at risk. Get the right protection in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you again.