In our increasingly digital world, we must continually prepare for the threat of cyberattacks and hacking incidents. RTD has and will continue to send our resources and tips to stay secure online and protect your digital footprint; however, these tips simply help to mitigate the risk and cannot completely eliminate it.
It can be stressful and scary to find out that your personal information or online accounts have been compromised, but it is important to remain calm and take immediate action to limit the damage caused. Below are essential steps to follow if you’ve been hacked, empowering you to reclaim control and safeguard your digital life.
- Identify the Signs of a Hack: The first step in responding to a hack is recognizing that you’ve been hacked. Look for suspicious activities such as unfamiliar account logins, unprompted multi-factor codes or pushes, unauthorized financial transactions, unexpected password resets, or strange notifications about unauthorized access attempts.
- Secure Your Accounts: Upon learning you’ve been hacked, immediately change passwords for all your online accounts. Start with those associated with sensitive information such as banking, email, and investments. From there, move on to accounts that contain less sensitive information such as social media and e-commerce. We recommend changing all passwords after a compromise. You can also use a password manager to help with generating and storing complex passwords.
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): We recommend activating MFA wherever possible as it provides another layer of protection and significantly decreases the chance of unauthorized access. MFA can provide a second layer of defense if your password is compromised. MFA works by requiring a second form of verification, in most cases a code texted to your phone.
- Disconnect and Quarantine Impacted Devices: If you think a specific device is compromised, disconnect it immediately. Removing it from internet and powering it off and help to prevent any further data loss. Run a thorough antivirus scan on the device to detect and remove any malicious software.
- Notify Relevant Parties: Be sure to report the incident to appropriate parties including your bank, credit card company, financial planner, and other service providers. These providers can take extra steps to protect your accounts and initiate investigations. We also suggest you contact your friends, family, and colleagues to make sure they’re aware and to put them on alert for anything suspicious coming from your accounts.
- Monitor Your Financial and Personal Information: Keep a close eye on your financial statement, credit reports, and any other accounts or services that may have been compromised. If you notice any unusual activity, report it immediately. It is also best practice to notify the major credit agencies and place a fraud alert or freeze your credit to prevent any further unauthorized access.
- Update and Patch Software: Keep your devices and software up to date with the latest security patches and firmware updates. Regularly check for and install any software updates that are available as these updates usually includes patches to increase the security of the system itself.
- Educate Yourself: Take this opportunity to improve your knowledge of cybersecurity best practices. There is so much information out there on the latest hacking techniques, phishing scams, and data breaches, and it is critical to stay in the know on these trends. Pass the information you learn onto your loved ones to help everyone strengthen their cybersecurity and learn how to avoid potential threats.
- Strengthen Your Security Measures: Consider implementing additional security measures like antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. Try to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks if possible. If you can’t avoid using it, be sure to deploy a VPN to help keep your connection private. Always be careful about clicking on any links in emails and verify that attachments and links are coming from a trusted source.
- Seek Professional Help: We know how hard this can be and know that it isn’t easy to handle all this on your own. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out to a cybersecurity professional or contact your local authorities. There are experts in this area that are willing and able to help. They can typically provide guidance, assist in forensic analysis, and provide remedial steps to help limit the consequences of the hack.
Experiencing a hack is a tremendously difficult experience, but it is crucial to act fast to limit the damage of a hack. Following the steps outlined above can help you regain control, protect your information, and strengthen your defense against future attempts. Remember to always stay informed, implement strong security measures, and adopt proactive practices to maintain your online safety in today’s digital world. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to RTD directly. We’re happy to provide you tips and refer trusted contacts that can help during this time.