What to Do If Your Child’s E-Mail Account Gets Hacked?
It happens, even to the most cautious of persons. Despite taking umpteen precautions, installing the best of security software and following all the rules, one’s account gets hacked. It may be either because someone got access to the password and started using the id to spread spam or because one had inadvertently clicked on an attachment in a spam mail or the Service Provider faced a data breach. Whatever is the cause, the account is hacked, and one’s details are now accessible for the hacker!
If it happens to be your account, your immediate reaction chain is as follows:
Shock=> disbelief=> concern=>frustration=>anger.
You curse under your breath and sit down to set matters right. But what IF the account is that of your child’s? If you are anything like me, this is when fear hits the roof. I’d immediately start imagining the worst. I would literally see crooks reading my innocent one’s mails with sadistic glee and then donning a false persona to befriend her or her unsuspecting friends. OK, that’s how paranoid I would get when I was an Internet rookie. But you are the Cool Mom, who knows how to handle such matters without getting rifled, right? So you will simply help your child carry out damage control procedures.
First how do you know that e-mail or networking account has been hacked?
- The account is sending out spams mails to contacts
- The e-mail account is receiving “bounced” e-mails from unknown senders
- The password has been changed
- The Internet Service Provider has blocked the account for sending spams
So, what do you do?
a) Install and update your security solution: Install a security solution like McAfee Total Protection 2012 and ensure that you regularly update the same. However, if the hacker has succeeded in planting a malware in the PC, it will continue to pass on info regardless. Then you would need to do a complete clean up.
b) Change password and security questions: If the account is not blocked, then change the password and security questions immediately. It’s advisable to have a strong password with a mix of characters and alphabets and change it frequently as well.
c) Check whether you need to inform your contacts about the hacking: Ordinarily, people these days recognise a spam mail when they see one. However, if the spam deals with a request for loan or donation for school activities, you need to send a clarifying mail to all
d) Set up a new account: Offer this new account as the alternate e-mail to your Internet Service Provider. Import all contacts to this id and tell your child not to share this on any social forum or survey forms. Remember to have a different password for this account!
e) Check account settings: Go to settings, both account and privacy, and check whether the hacker has made any changes to them. Look for changes in signature; auto forwarding; filter settings to redirect mails and/or send them with attachments; and alternate e-mail id. If you note any such changes, immediately delete them and save your changes.
f) Create a new account for gaming: If the child plays a lot of online games and need to make online transactions for them, create another account and keep the controls of that account in your hand.
g) Inform the Internet Service Provider: Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail etc. have icons on top where you can notify them if the account has been hacked.
Precaution is always better than cleaning the damage caused. So help your kids create strong and unique passwords for different accounts. Also train them not to click on attachments, links or forwarded images from unknown senders automatically. You on your part can ensure that the security software is updated and the Firewall is always turned ‘ON’.
Have a safe surfing experience!