How to check if your email account has been hacked and how to secure it

Cybersecurity is more important than ever before as we connect to more apps and create more accounts associated with our email addresses. The worst part about having an email hacked is, for some, they don’t know it has happened. 

Companies have various ways of encrypting user data, but the average user doesn’t always find out how the company is encrypting their data. The average user doesn’t know how vulnerable their passwords are, and it is often a weak or stolen password that is exploited by the opportunist hacker.

There are a couple of ways to check if your email has been hacked and if your passwords are at risk.

How to check your Gmail account

For Gmail accounts, Google launched Password Checkup, which has been integrated into the Google Account Password Manager in Chrome. This warns about password reuse and weak credentials. Visiting passwords.google.com lets you run the tool, while the most up-to-date version of Chrome integrates the sign-in extension directly. From Password Checkup you can see your compromised passwords, as well as reused passwords or accounts using weak passwords. 

How to check other email addresses

For others there is another popular website to check called Have I Been Pwned. This allows you to check if your personal data has been compromised by data breaches by safely entering your email address. You can also sign up to be notified if your email address appears in future leaks. 

If the site returns with the news “Oh no — pwned!” you should change you login password for the affected accounts shown, and other services with the same email and password combination. 

What can I do?

Ideally, we need to use different passwords across all accounts associated with our email addresses. These should be strong and unique to make it more difficult for hackers to access your personal data across multiple platforms.

Have I Been Pwned recommends using a password manager similar to that offered for free by Google. These services offer recommended passwords and access to saved passwords when logged into a password manager on your devices. 

Other services, such as Apple and Microsoft, offer multi-factor authentication which can be activated by the user. These services generate an additional verification code alongside your password before you can gain access to your account. 

It is important to protect your personal data. Hackers often succeed because people are lax in their online protection. It is worth taking steps to add more security to your login process and to avoid serious theft, be it of your identity, data, or money.