What to Do If You’ve Been Hacked (Part 1)

Posted by Stefanie Kober Thu, 15 Jan 2015 07:54:00 GMT

In our previous blog post, we discussed how to determine if you have been a victim of a data or security breach. In this post, we outline the steps you should take to help prevent the situation from getting worse.   

Immediately after getting hacked, it is hard to know what to do, or where to begin. These are some good steps you can take following an incident. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a good start nonetheless.

Check your credit card or bank statement
The first one is obvious; if you used a debit card, look for any suspicious purchases and other activity that you did not authorize. If you detect any fraud or suspicious activity, call your financial institution immediately to report this. If your account has been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit report. By doing so, you can prevent an identity thief from opening more accounts in your name, while ensuring that any company must verify your identity prior to issuing credit. 

Change your passwords right away
This is a given, but an important step nonetheless. All passwords on web content software, email accounts, social media, should be changed into strong, hard-to-crack passwords, that you haven’t used previously on other accounts. If your password was less than eight characters long, or used common dictionary words, there’s a high probability that thieves have already broken in. You should be periodically changing your passwords as part of a routine maintenance – but if you’ve just been hacked, it’s now even more urgent.

Update and scan
It may be that your attacker gained access via your machine. Almost all malware is installed, unwittingly, by victims, themselves. If something ugly is on your computer, you need to remove it before you start a recovery process. Therefore, ensure that you are running the most recent version of your operating system. Additionally, download an anti-virus product and run a scan for malware and viruses that may have been the root of the attack.

Make regular back-ups
A back-up is the last defense against data loss or data misuse made by an intruder, providing a way to restore original data. Back-up on a regular basis data that is important; data should always be classified into different levels of importance. Critical data needs to be backed-up more frequently, for instance daily or whenever the data is modified. If your data contains sensitive information, you should encrypt the data. Finally, make sure to protect your back-ups.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we shall discuss more aspects of how to handle a hacking attack.

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