Posted: 17 Jan 2016 09:12 PM PST
Every single day i get emails in my inbox and on my facebook page from users querying about how to recover hacked facebook account and a common problem i see in all of them is that they are proactive. Everyone searches for Facebook account recovery softwares, Facebook hacking softwares and recovery mechanisms after their facebook or any other email account has been hacked. In this article, Gary suggests methods to identify if your computer or email account has been hacked and methods suggesting what you can do after your facebook account has been hacked.
In today's digital world, it is unfortunately not uncommon for an account or machine to become compromised by an attacker for nefarious purposes. During your searches for a step-by-step solution, your frustration may hit the breaking point, as you scroll through page after page, listing preventative measures that it may already be too late for. No problem. In today's article I will outline simple strategies that should get you back in control of your online accounts and devices after a breach is suspected or confirmed. These instructions will be laid out in a manner that should be quite easy for an average user to comprehend and execute. But first, let's take a minute to understand exactly how this probably happened in the first place.
NOTE: If you are potentially dealing with this situation right now, please skip ahead to the " What do I do?" section of this article, first. Then be sure to read the rest.
Did I Get Hacked?You're browsing around online and suddenly your friends on social media are asking you what these links you keep sending them are, or perhaps your password to an online account has been changed, emails are being sent from your email account, or there is just something strange in your activity log. Do any of these mean that your account has been compromised?
First of all, always assume your account and system have been compromised and take the appropriate measures to secure them, when in doubt. Do not let an attacker maintain a foothold and continue masquerading as you and/or stealing your sensitive data and files, while you come up with excuses to justify unfamiliar activity. Also, while many online services and accounts have a 'connected devices', 'location information', or 'login activity' viewer in their settings, this should never be advised as a sure-fire way to rule out being hacked. There are many ways that these features can be rendered useless - malware can be installed on the user's machine which sets up an HTTP or SOCKS proxy on the machine of the user, session cookies can be stolen, and even the online account settings themselves can be manipulated or even flawed to cover malicious activity. Secure your accounts and system, anyway, just to be safe. It may be time consuming, but it is far better than waiting around for something bad to happen.
How Does This Happen (Methods To Hack Facebook Account)?There are many methods which attackers deploy to breach online accounts of their victims. This is not meant to be an instruction manual or even a comprehensive list of every way an attacker can possibly compromise your system, accounts, and/or online services. This is just an overview of the most common real-world techniques that are actually being deployed. If you've been hacked, chances are good that it was done by a combination of the techniques listed below.
There are Man-In-The-Middle Attacks which capture data packets from the victim machine and store them, before sending them along to the proper destination. There's Phishing, where an attacker convinces you to sign in to your account via a fake login page, then steals your credentials. Sometimes websites themselves are hacked via sql injection methods that dump the entire database of usernames and password hashes… these same username/password combinations are then attempted on many various sites, since a lot of users use the same login credentials across many websites and services. Then there is potentially the most dangerous… malware can be installed on the victim machine which can do anything from logging keystrokes, to remotely browsing the filesystem, to opening a remote shell, or even spying on the users via their webcams and microphones.
The malicious hacker's toolbox of techniques is always evolving and changing to meet changes in security practice and while there are other ways accounts can be compromised, most real-world hacks are a combination of some of the techniques listed above.
"What Do I Do?"I would like to divide this into three sections, as each are important. Secure Your Accounts and Services, Secure Your Machines and Devices, and Damage Control. You don't know for sure how much of a foot-hold an attacker has or how long they have had it, before you realized or became suspicious. So assume everything has been compromised and secure each of them, as they may be used by an attacker to later re-compromise what you have secured.
Secure Your Facebook Accounts and Online ServicesYou must change the passwords to all your online accounts and services that you use. Even the ones that you don't recall using sensitive data on. This practice should obviously be prioritized, beginning with the account that you notice suspicious activity on.
Then quickly change your associated email accounts, as these can usually be used to reset the passwords to your other accounts. Be sure to 'logout active sessions' or connected devices, if your service has this feature. If so, you will probably be asked or prompted with it, during the password reset process.
Do not use the same passwords across different sites or services. Go to the security settings of each site or service and activate every notification you possibly can for login attempts and activity Enable two-factor authentication. Make it a pain in the ass to login if you must. Remember that ease of use and convenience are simply open doors for many others.
Then, after you have secured your devices, go through and do a final sweep of password changes. This final step is due to the fact that, if malware is installed on your device, an attacker could potentially be watching you change all your passwords the first time.
Also, follow your website, social media, or other online service's specific guidelines for reporting unusual behavior and securing your accounts. They most likely have a staff that deals with these situations on a daily basis, are usually very polite and helpful and there should never be any negative consequences if you are in error in your reporting of a hacked account.
Secure Your DevicesWe must next purge your devices of any malicious processes. There are usually many free antivirus solutions that do a great job at eliminating these threats in a simple scan, but don't be scammed by a fake. Do your research for the latest, well known and best free or paid (depending on your budget) anti-malware solution. Read third party reviews.
Now, I know that anti-virus protection is not always a 100% solution, as there are many obfuscation and crypting methods that can be used to hide malware signatures from antivirus scans, but the big antivirus companies are very competitive and new definition updates roll out on a regular basis. At the time of writing this, the average private crypts are only FUD (fully undetectable) for approximately one month and the average public crypts which actually are FUD (most are never FUD, from the beginning) are only so for about one or two weeks.
While an anti-virus scan will most likely eliminate the threats on your PC, it is still advised that you backup your important files and data, format your hard drive and reinstall your operating system. For devices other than PC, follow your manufacturer's guidelines for resetting your device to default factory settings.
Damage ControlAn often overlooked aspect of securing your accounts and services, is what to do afterward. It is a bit important, because you may not know what messages have been sent to others or what was done in your name.
Financial services should be your first concern. Check your account activity for any purchases you do not recognize. Be sure to call your bank or credit card companies and have new card numbers issued.
As for social media, don't be embarrassed or ashamed to post a public announcement, for everyone to see. Most everyone has seen social media accounts having been taken over by an attacker or bot and posting malicious links all over the internet, already. These things happen all of the time. This is nothing new and people will not think of you as being stupid or view you in a different light. They will instead judge you based on your quick and calm ability to assess and take control of the situation, most likely awarding you with support and respect.
For formal or social media accounts, a statement like this should be sufficient:
"Hello Everyone. I have an important and unfortunate announcement to make. It appears that some of my accounts were compromised (hacked). I noticed suspicious activity on (date XX/XX/XX ) and while I am actively securing everything and the damage seems minimal, there's no way for me to know the full extent or length of time of the breach. If you noticed any suspicious activity from my account or strange messages, please inform me immediately. Also if you have gotten any links from "me" recently, do not follow them. Instead ask me about them after I have finished securing all of my accounts, devices and services. I appreciate your support. Have a great day, everyone and apologies if there has been any inconvenience."
A shorter version:
"One of my accounts was recently hacked. Things seem fine so far. I'm now securing it. Be sure to let me know of anything suspicious from my account. Thanks."
And last, but not least: prevention. This could've saved you a lot of effort and grief to begin with. Keep up to date with the latest security practices for all of your online services, all your accounts, and all of your devices, because often a foothold into one of these can allow access into others.
About the Author
My name is Gary Lewis. While I am not as knowledgeable and skilled as many of your programming and security experts and teachers are, I do have real-world experience. There are a lot of technical skills that I'm not an expert at, but I was involved in a lot of things I will not list here and I do know how hacks are being done in the real world, rather than textbook knowledge. I retired from that scene some time ago and decided to pursue philosophy, art, and poetry. Currently, I am working on 3 series of dark themed art and poetry books entitled Paradoxium, Inevitum, and Relativium about Chaos, Order, and Time. I still stay up to date on data security and am happy to write an article for my good friend Rafay, when he wishes, but my days of hacking are over. So if you have any questions or inquiries, please refer to him and his team. They are very knowledgeable in their field of study.
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