How Did I Get Hacked?

Recently, I was reminded of the importance of security and being diligent when it comes to your email as my email account was hacked!

So what happened? How could this happen to me?

I received an email from someone I trusted that said they were "sharing a document with me". I was expecting that I might receive something from this person so assumed it was legitimate. Trusting the sender I clicked on the link (mistake number 1). As I had recently logged out of my Google Docs, I was not surprised when I was asked to sign in to Google Docs to access the shared file. As I entered my details (mistake number 2) I thought "this doesn't look right" and exited as quickly as I could. I sent an email to the sender and asked them if this was correct to be told that their email account had been hacked and the attachment was a virus.

The next thing I knew I was receiving phone calls, text messages and FB messages telling me that it looked like I had been hacked or letting me know that they couldn't open the shared file that I had sent them. I was horrified that this had happened but thankful that people took the time to let me know. Obviously, the first thing I did was to change my password, my next reaction was to panic a little bit! From there I went into damage control, trying to warn as many people as possible to avoid it happening to them as well. It was a great reminder of how easily this can happen. 

Even VAs can be hacked

So what should you look out for?
How can you minimise the risk of being hacked? 

Here are 5 things you can do to avoid being hacked

  1. Never click on a link in an email you receive. Check with the sender before entering any details. 
  2. Ensure your anti-virus program is up-to-date and regular scans are run. Don't forget your firewall.
  3. Keep your passwords secure. Using a program like LastPass means that your passwords are safe.
  4. Regularly change your email password and other sensitive passwords, like your banking passwords.
  5. Install updates when required. Don't put them off as hackers know if an update is required there is a weakness in the system that they can infiltrate.

What sort of emails should you be wary of? 

We have all heard stories about the email from your energy company, Australia Post, your telephone company or the ATO asking you to update your details or to click on a link because there is a problem with your account. These are all emails you should be wary of. Remember to log into your account directly through their website and not via the link in the email. 

Even though we trust our friends and colleagues we should also be wary of any email received that is asking you to enter your details. Check with them before opening, they won't mind and you will ensure your cyber safety. 

Cyber security

So what should you do if you get caught by a hacker? 

Step 1 - Change your passwords
Step 2 - Advise your contacts so they are forewarned
Step 3 - Ask your IT specialist to check it out to find out exactly how you have been affected by the virus.
Step 4 - Check that you are not on a SPAM list. 
Step 5 - Breathe! Although it can cause many and varied issues for you and your business, remember that you will get through this and the problems can be fixed.  

Can we be sure that we won't be a victim of hacking? 

Even with the best processes in place, it is still possible to get caught by a hacker. However, the more vigilant you are the better your chances of not being infiltrated by the menace hackers.

Stay vigilant and take note of any email that is asking you to enter details or click on a link. If you receive a warning about an email, listen to that warning!

As my IT guy told me "it happens to the best of us" so minimise the risk and avoid being a victim of a cyber attack!

If you have any tips for avoiding a cyber attack please share in the comments so that we can help more people stay safe!