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Email Hacking

March 24, 2015

It usually happens unexpectedly. One day, your smartphone will fail to retrieve your messages, you may not be able to log into your email account, or you find out that spam emails are flooding your outbox, causing embarrassment and a huge headache in the middle of a workday. Email communication has become the primary form of communication between businesses, and is relied upon by attorneys as a secure and confidential form of communication to fellow attorneys, employees, and, most importantly, clients. In this post, we explain the steps you must take when your email is hacked, along with ways to prevent email hacking in the first place.

What to do when your email gets hacked:

Step 1 – Change your password

It is important to change your password after your email is hacked. That is, if you can still access your email account. If you cannot access your email account, you should contact your email provider and provide the necessary information to change your password. Under no circumstance should you simply create a new email account and consider your hacked email “broken” or “unusable”. Many times, viruses that manifest themselves in spam emails only get worse as time goes on. See our post on Password Practices for great information on how to make a new password that will keep your account protected in the future.

Step 2 – Check your email folders for sensitive content

Chances are, there are passwords, account numbers, and even privileged information in some of your emails. Now, most of the time, viruses do not aim to extract this content. That being said, it is still a good idea to move sensitive content off of your hacked email account until you know (for sure) that the email is secure.

Step 3 – Report the incident

Once you have regained access to your account, report the incident to the email provider. Why is this important? Email providers and websites like Google, Yahoo!, and Outlook are constantly researching new viruses and ways to hack the accounts they manage. In turn, hackers are often times one step ahead. When one virus stops working, they try another. Reporting incidents only helps the cause of eliminating these viruses.

Step 4 – Notify and Apologize

Especially for attorneys, who keep in constant contact with their clients and other attorneys, reputation is important. Perhaps the biggest problem that comes along with a hacked email account is spam emails sent to what seems like random people from your address book. Therefore, it is important to send out a standardized email notifying everyone in your address book what happened, how they may be or may have been affected, and most importantly, apologizing for any inconvenience. Even if the spam email contained embarrassing content, making a good faith effort to clarify the situation will help you, and your firm, save face.

How to protect your email before it gets hacked:

Like it or not, your email account is a vital part to your business. If you do not already protect your account through having a business email account, do so. Otherwise, make sure you monitor your email account for any abnormal activity. Monitor your outbox for irregular messages, and avoid clicking on any advertisements that are not sent from websites that you remember subscribing to.

If you are a small firm, we are here to protect you. For a quick, free quote on your Professional Liability insurance, visit us at or call one of our policy specialists at (877) 569-4111! We look forward to hearing from you!

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