Being a victim of a cyber attack…
… can cause two immediate – yet conflicting – sets of emotions:
You want to do something. Anything.
You’re drawing a blank
You don’t know what to do, or what you even can do
No matter how you feel right now
This is a race against the clock.
Here is a list of things you should do immediately upon discovering that you’ve been hacked.
… and Make sure to file a report.
It might not seem all that important at the time – particularly when you find out exactly how little that your local police department cares about cyber attacks that don’t involve child pornography – but this is an important first step.
In addition to being one of the items that will make any future discussions with insurance companies, credit reporting agencies, and responsible parties, filing your police report will, through the power of statistics, help your local police understand how frequent these events are.
Possibly even leading to local police actually taking them seriously!
You can’t stop there, though, next you need to…
… to put a hold on your accounts.
All your accounts. Checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, money market accounts.
If you have Wells Fargo, even the accounts you never knew about or asked to be opened!
Even if you’ve only been hit with Ransomware, and have no evidence that any of your personal information was taken, do you really want to take that chance?
Your credit cards most likely offer some form of fraud protection, but your other accounts might not. A hacker with access to your personal information could abscond with your hard-earned (or not, I don’t know you yet, and I’m not judging) money.
Speaking of personal information…
… all of them!
Yes, all of your passwords.
First, you have no idea, most likely, how the hackers were even able to get into your system. One of the most common ways is by cracking one of your passwords.
Even if they didn’t need your password to get into your system, do you have any idea how long they were there? Any idea what kinds of information they were privy to?
The single most important password to change, in my opinion, is your main personal email address.
It’s a fair bet that your personal email account is where you have all your online accounts send password reset and backup emails to when you lose/forget your passwords, right?
Imagine what would happen if a hacker got your personal email account, locked you out of it (by changing the password themselves, first) and started randomly sending banks requests based on the “forgotten password”?
It happens all the time.
Change the password!
… and put a fraud alert on your account
If you’ve ever had to deal with identity theft, you’ll recognize this part as one of those you just don’t want to do.
But you have to.
First, run a credit check on all three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Think just one or two is fine? I’ve got news for you – it’s not.
Seriously. Someone stole my identity to purchase a Verizon wireless account and several additional phones. They used an address I hadn’t lived at in 15 years, but were approved… for some reason.
I had credit reporting on two of the three companies at that time – but the one I didn’t use was apparently the one Verizon Wireless did. Story over, my apologies…
Which leads us to the last step…
… seriously. And one who knows cyber security.
This might seem like a shameless pitch, but hear me out. It’s a pitch, no question. But having some experience, there are a few things you should know:
- Very few people who are hacked will even seek legal advice;
- Many who do are turned away because, sadly, this area of law isn’t well developed;
- You might not be entitled to any relief – particularly if your identity was stolen from a company that did everything right, but got hacked anyway;
- Oh, and if the company didn’t do everything right – even if they did everything wrong – you might never know.
Cyber security law is new, and there aren’t that many of us who focus on it. Of the ones that do, there are far fewer who are even remotely affordable to most people. But everyone deserves quality representation…