Hacking – A guide to responding and recovering from hacking attempts

20 Oct 2022 UK SIC

With constant news about individuals, schools and businesses being hacked, the knowledge around what to do if you are hacked is more important than ever.

To continue with Cyber Security Month, follow these simple steps if you are concerned about hacking or want to know how you can better protect yourself.

How to identify a hack

If you think that someone has accessed your online accounts, there are some initial signs that can identify if a hack has taken place.

Hackers can use online accounts in different ways so be aware of any changes, even if it is something small. Some initial signs that show an account has been compromised can include:  

  • Passwords no longer working  
  • Notifications about suspicious log-in attempts on your accounts 
  • A ransomware email asking for money
  • Your friends receiving suspicious messages that appear to be from you
  • Money is missing from your accounts
  • You have issues accessing other online accounts  

How do you respond if you’ve been hacked?  

If you think you have fallen victim to a hack, try not to panic, it’s now time to recover and respond as quickly as possible.

Once you’ve identified a hacking attempt, follow the below steps to try and prevent any further breach. 

  • If you have reused any passwords from a hacked account, ensure these are changed.
  • Make sure you notify the platform where your account has been compromised. Take a look at this guidance from Report Harmful Content which shows steps to take across some of the most well known platforms.
  • Visit the Information Commissioners Office or Action Fraud to find out if the incident needs to be reported to them. 
  • Ensure your contacts are aware of the situation to prevent suspicious messages from your account being engaged with.

How can I prevent hacking attempts? 

Responding and reacting to hacks is only part of good cyber-security practice. Being prepared and ensuring attempts can be prevented before they happen can build even stronger protection. Here are some key areas to focus on.

  • Continue to build knowledge around cyber security and how online attacks can manifest so you know how to effectively respond to different scenarios.
  • Ensure strong unique passwords are used for different accounts. Use this helpful guide from SWGfL for more information.
  • Make backups of data that, if lost or destroyed would affect you significantly.

Building knowledge around these areas can work towards preventing online hacks.

For more information, you can read this extended article from SWGfL which also provides guidance for schools on how they can protect their organisation as well as their recently launched cyber security checklist which is available to download.

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