The symptoms are always the same. Your friends start getting emails from your account either asking for money or directing them to another website. Thinking it’s from you, your friend either clicks on a link, where THEIR email promptly gets hacked, or winds up trying to help and send $1,000 to you, which winds up in a bank in Nigeria somewhere. You, my friend, have been hacked.
Don’t panic yet. There are a few simple things you can do to recover your email and your sanity again.
CHANGE YOUR HOTMAIL PASSWORD. IMMEDIATELY.
Sounds simple, but people forget to do this. Do it right now. NOW! Don’t even finish reading the rest of this article. Ok, wait. Hold on. Don’t go yet. First read how to change your Hotmail email password, and then go do it.
- Sign into your Hotmail account. Use your old password.
- Click your user name on the top right hand side of the page. A menu will pop up. Select the “View Your Account” option.
- Sign in again with your old password if prompted.
- You will see a starred field that holds your encrypted password. Click “Change Password” to the right.
CREATING A STRONG PASSWORD
This is the most important part. The reason that you got hacked in the first place was because your old password – to put it mildly – was no good.
Quick guess – it was the name of your pet, followed by the last two digits of your birth year? You and about two million other people. Here are a few tips to help in creating a stronger password so you don’t get hacked again:
- DON’T use a normal word that you can find in the dictionary. That’s the FIRST thing that password cracking programs try
- DO use a combination of UPPER and lowercase characters. Most passwords are case sensitive: Password, PASSword, PassWord and PassworD are all different to most systems.
- DO add in numbers and special symbols such as $, ! and -.
Sounds complicated, but there are ways around it. One of the easiest things to do is to substitute a special character for a normal letter.
Let’s say you wanted the word “cat” in your password. In the first place, that’s a dictionary word, which is bad. So what you can do is change the spelling and add some symbols in.
Now, to top it off, just remember that you’re excited about your new password, so add an exclamation mark at the end: “Ka+5891” becomes “Ka+5891!”.
SEND AN EMAIL TO YOUR CONTACTS
Write up an email and send it to all your contacts telling them what happened. The best way to do this is by using an alternative account. Go sign up for a Gmail or AOL free email account and send it that way. You can export the addresses from your Hotmail account and import them into your temporary email account. Tell everyone what happened and that you are working on the problem.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NEW EMAIL
This might even be a good opportunity to switch your email to someone else. Maybe there are some features of Gmail that you like more than what Hotmail can offer you. Another idea is to use a second email address when you’re signing up for free trial offers online, or downloading software, or even leaving a comment on a web site. If one of these sites tries to follow up with a sales email or newsletter, it will go to this email box.
SCAN YOUR COMPUTER FOR VIRII, TROJANS AND MALWARE
Update your Virus program. Then UNPLUG your computer from the Internet. This will keep any nasty programs from sending any more information out. Run a FULL virus scan. This may take several hours. Go have a cup of coffee. Or a four course meal, depending on how long it takes.
HACKED HOTMAIL CONCLUSION
Hopefully some of the above steps helped you fix your hacked Hotmail account. The main thing when it comes to email security is to ensure that you’re using a strong password. Another thing to keep an eye on is using public computers. Always ensure that the “On a Public Computer” box is checked before you log in to the account. By checking this box, you tell Hotmail to erase any cookies or stored information in the browser. This prevents your password from being saved in the computer browser and used by others.