Article

Richa Sharma
Richa Sharma 30 March 2021

How to Deal With Online Account Hacking?

More often than not, you may find yourself at the receiving end of an internet breach. It could be a hacked social media account or leaked passwords online. This article talks about some prominent avenues you can explore in order to deal with online account hacking.

More often than not, you may find yourself at the receiving end of an internet breach. It could be a hacked social media account or leaked passwords online. And when the customer service fails you in the time of need, you are only left with regret and frustration for lack of action on your part. 

The ways in which you can ensure online security for your private accounts is by staying up-to-date on the latest scams and malware threats, opting for multi-factor authentication on sites which offer it, carefully disposing crucial data, avoiding suspicious messages or links, unique & complex passwords and so on.

Moreover, incorporating a data-driven approach into your security systems will only help solidify your digital fortress.

On that note, let’s talk about some prominent avenues you can explore in order to deal with online account hacking.

Staying Updated on the Latest Scams and Malware Threats 

Be it your online business or private social media account, you need to be aware of all the various phishing scams so as to steer clear of falling in such traps. Once you get the hang of prominent phishing tactics, it is easier to classify them as spam in the future.

Regardless of how they are targeted, such attacks take varied paths to cause harm. It could be in the form a phishing email (containing a dangerous link), domain spoofing (mimicking email addresses), social media phishing (criminals using posts or direct messages), clone phishing (where a real message is duplicated and sent with legitimate attachments and links replaced with malicious ones), and so on.

Moreover, in some extreme cases, some legit websites might be tampered with through watering hole phishing (delivering malware and link redirection on popular sites), Pharming (DNS cache poisoning), Click fraud & Clickjacking (hidden capture boxes that will grab user login credentials), Typosquatting (URL hijacking, where typing amazon instead of amazon could lead you to a malicious site), and so on.

Some of the most common and recent scams running rampant on the internet are as follows:

  • Contest winner/inheritance email: If you’ve received an unprecedented mail announcing cash prizes or large inheritance of money, there’s a high chance it is fraudulent. More often than not, such emails will ask for your account details and lead you to ill-natured websites.
  • Bank notice: This kind of scam tricks you with a fake account notification, asking for your bank details “for verification purposes.” Contact your bank so that they can take appropriate action on such malicious emails.
  • Income tax refunds/rebates: These phishing messages announce false eligibility to receive a tax refund, followed by a request for you to submit a tax refund request or tax form, which scammers then use for ill-fated purposes.

Opting for Multi-factor Authentication on Websites

There is no doubt that multi-factor authentication (also known as two-factor authentication) provides an extra level of customer account security. By the virtue of 2FA, web services give secondary access to the account owner (you) in order to verify each and every login attempt.

Usually this will involve a phone number, email address and/or an authenticator app. When the user tries to login, he/she will be needed to verify their identity by typing in a number sent by an authenticator app or clicking on an emailed/texted verification link.

Authenticator apps offer flexibility when you are in places with no cell service, and are considered more secure than texting. Popular ones include Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, or Hennge OTP (iOS only). 

It is also to be noted that 2FA does not completely cloak you from potential hackers. However, it does offer an important step in preventing your account from being accessed by unauthorized users. 

Careful Disposal of Crucial Data

Proper data disposal is necessary to preserve your digital integrity and it involves much more than just clicking ‘delete’ on your perceived junk files. It should also be noted that data deleted negligently can still be retrieved from hard drives and tapes, as the data still exists in digital form, just in a different location. This can eventually cause multiple security risks in the long run for an individual as well as a business.

To help prevent such mishaps, freeware programs are used that allow disposal specialists to properly overwrite their hard drives. This is convenient because overwriting hard drives allows them to be reused in the future. 

Another major alternative to overwriting is the degaussing process, which allows you to magnetically erase data from hard drives and tapes. Even though this process destroys the media on which the data is stored, it is far more secure than overwriting your drives.

Last but not the least, you can also erase data in a safe manner by physically destroying the hard drives on which the data exists. It then becomes impossible to retrieve confidential data/passwords and is the safest and most reliable way when push comes to shove.

Using Unique and Complex Passwords 

It is no secret that the very uniqueness of your passwords on different platforms is extremely important to your online security. When websites end up getting hacked, login credentials are stolen and resold most of the time. Hackers then go on to use the passwords on your other accounts and get hold of all your private data.

Apart from managing unique passwords through a password manager, you should also prefer to set complex alphanumeric combinations as passwords. Include uppercase, lowercase characters along with numbers and special characters to enjoy an added level of security for your online accounts.

No amount of security is enough security. It is only as long as you not find yourself at the receiving end of a breach that you can consider yourself safe.

Conclusion

With the heavy digitisation of the world and increasing need for online services and portals, the amount of accounts/IDs/passwords a single person holds is increasing exponentially. The need for increased security against cyber threats is at an all-time high.

It is only fitting that you implement all measures possible to safeguard your online presence before reaping the benefits of this hyper-connected world.

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