Top 10 things to do if your account has been hacked

Best Practices | Alex Llorente


Cyber security has become one of the biggest concerns in the business community.  We place safeguards to protect the integrity of our systems from attack, damage or unauthorized access, and yet, no protection is 100% effective.  The recent email spoofing incident at the Council put our crisis management skills to the test.  Within an hour, we assessed the situation, had a plan of action, and individually carried out our assigned tasks.

More than two weeks prior to the incident, the Council was working with General Microsystems Inc. (GMI) for a security assessment.  “Had we not undergone the assessment, the spoofing would have created some damage,” said Fernando Martinez, our President and CEO, whose LinkedIn and Email accounts had been exposed to a phishing attempt.  Nonprofits, regardless of size, are profitable targets for cyber criminals.

We immediately alerted our network, with instructions to ignore or report the spoofer, and not to send any money, since the phishing attempt involved a request for funds.

Over the next two days, we continued to work with GMI and Idea Entity to ensure the security of our servers, platforms and accounts.  As soon as they received our call, Idea Entity hit the ground running.  They checked our entire configuration, scanned our system, identified the issue, protected us from further intrusion, and monitored our system and accounts for any suspicious or unusual activity.

With no further indication of any threats, we sent our final update on the incident to our network, assuring them that their information remains secure and protected.

“Fernando reaching out and letting people know about the recent security assessment is really great.  It lets people know that the office and company information is secure.  Being a ‘cloud account,’ this type of compromise is unfortunately the most common type.  Because our assessment didn't reach outside of the organization's systems, the checklist may be a good training tool for your team and give your team things to consider before something like this happens,” said Scott Myers, Director of Technical Operations at GMI.

Open communications is a very important value at the Northwest Mountain MSDC.  It is in the best interest of our stakeholders that we remain transparent, and it is in our best interest, that their information remains secured.

We would like to share the checklist provided by GMI to help everyone prepare against such incidents, and act accordingly if it unfortunately does occur. 

A Comprehensive Checklist from GMI

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Highlights from the Checklist
  1. Check if your malware and virus protection is working and if not, get the next generation software.

  2. Check your privacy and security options.  Pay attention to the exceptions and whitelists.

  3. Check your email settings and rules to ensure your emails are not being forwarded to another account.

  4. Change your passwords, especially if you are using the same password for multiple accounts, and implement more complex passwords.

  5. Set up 2-form factor authentication.  Use your cellphone to receive the login codes, and verify that your calls/texts are not being forwarded.

  6. De-authorize all apps connected to your social media and email accounts.

  7. Alert the compromised account of the situation.

  8. Update everything and run a system scan.

  9. Scan your backups as well.

  10. Check to see if any of your accounts have been listed on the black market.

The full checklist can be downloaded from this page.  And by the way, although we are certain that the downloadable file is safe, the best practice is: if you download a file from anywhere in the internet, you must scan it with an antivirus before opening it.

Account Compromised - Things to Consider

A Comprehensive Checklist from GMI

Alex Llorente is the Manager of Corporate Services, Marketing & Communications of Northwest Mountain MSDC and Co-Chair of the Publicity & Marketing Committee, which aims to enhance and communicate the value of the Northwest Mountain MSDC.  The above information is intended solely for personal non-commercial use.  Any information taken from this page is the full responsibility of the user.  While we have taken every precaution to insure that the content is both current and accurate, errors can occur.  The information provided is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, consulting or any other professional advice or service.  For our legal disclaimer, please visit