FTC Advises Consumers on Preventing, Identifying, and Dealing With Hacked Email or Social Networking Accounts

August 1, 2013
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The Federal Trade Commission has new tips to help people deal with email and social networking hacks, whether it’s lessening the chances of a hack in the first place, or recovering from a hack once it happens.

Hacked Email, new guidance from the FTC, identifies signs an account may have been hacked such as friends and family members receiving messages the user didn’t send, a sent folder emptied, social media posts the user didn’t create, or email or other accounts the user can’t open.

If consumers think they have been hacked, the FTC encourages them to take the following actions:

–              Make sure security software is up-to-date and delete malware;

–              Change passwords;

–              Check with their email provider or social networking site for information about restoring the account;

–              Check account settings; and

–              Tell your friends

Using unique passwords for important sites like banking and email and safeguarding user names and passwords can help users protect themselves from hackers. The FTC recommends users turn on two-factor authentication if a service provider offers it; not click on links or open attachments from unknown users; and only download free software from sites a user knows and trusts. When using a public computer, do not let web browsers remember passwords, and log out of all accounts when finished.

The FTC also provides more tips for using public wi-fi networks.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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3 Responses to FTC Advises Consumers on Preventing, Identifying, and Dealing With Hacked Email or Social Networking Accounts

  1. Ed P on August 3, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I never understood the reason to change passwords. If you have a good one the hackers won’t find it. You can change it and get caught the next day.

    Passwords should have at least 8 character, 10 is better and should include letters, numbers and other characters such as punctuation marks.

    • Matthew Davidson on August 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Ed, you are correct about the strength of passwords, but when it really comes down to it we as consumers don’t really have much control. Think about this: you create a 12 digit password that has very high entropy (randomness), but the website you are entering it on is not using secure transmission, they store your password without encryption and even if they do use encryption it could be weak. There are ways around this, but with greater security comes less convenience. Which one will you sacrifice to be safe online?

  2. Matthew Davidson on August 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Great Article! I always advise my clients on Internet Safety. There are so many ways to stay protected, but
    prevention starts with the user!!

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