By Bob Rankin
“Help, somehow my email account got hijacked, and now all my friends are getting spam, from me! I am always careful with my password. How could this have happened, and what should I do?”
Was Your Email Hijacked?
The first thing to do is relax. It’s quite likely that your account wasn’t actually compromised. Sometimes spammers use your email address without actually hacking into your email account. It is relatively easy to “spoof” an email address so that it appears a message is coming from one address when it was really sent from another. See Spammer Using My Email Address to learn more about how this can happen.
If a virus scan shows nothing unusual, and you can still login to your email account with your password, then most likely no breach has occurred. But in the worst case, spammers can gain full access to your email account and major trouble ensues.
It’s common for a spammer to change your email password so that you cannot log in to your own account. Then the spammer can raid your contact list to harvest valid email addresses to add to his spam list. Also, the spammer now has access to all of your saved email, which may include sensitive personal and financial information. If you’ve been locked out of your own email account, contact your ISP, or use the “can’t access my account” link that appears on the login screen to recover.
This excerpt is shared with permission from Bob Rankin.