Web email (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, etc.) have made it easy for people to always be in touch. It’s also gotten easier for email to be accessible by the increased usage of smartphones. However, this also makes it easier for malicious attacks towards your email account that can leave you unable to access your own account. Earlier this month, users with Hotmail accounts were compromised when another user was able to view their inboxes. Also, with the addition of Google Buzz, email users are starting to wonder how safe their email accounts really are, and what to do if they fall victims of malicious attacks. This article will show you how to get access back to your email from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or Hotmail, and avoid any more damage.
Try resetting your password
The first thing you should try to do if your email account has been hacked is to reset your password. When you first enter the site, click the link that will take you to the area where you can reset it.
Hotmail: Forgot your password?
- Enter your Windows Live ID and CAPTCHA
- Click the radio button next to the email address you want your temporary password sent to. You are given a choice of your Hotmail email address (doesn’t make any sense if that is the account I can’t login to) or alternate email address (if you have entered one).
- Password reset instructions are sent to your alternate e-mail address
- Click or copy+paste the link into your web browser
- Enter your Windows Live ID, type in your new password and confirm it
- Check the Make my password expire every 72 days check boxes, so it forces you to always change your password
- Press the Continue button. Sign in with your new login credentials
Yahoo: I can’t access my account
- Click the I forgot my password or My password doesn’t work radio button, and press the Next button
- Enter your Yahoo! ID and CAPTCHA
- Enter your alternate email (if you added one), your mobile phone number (if you use your smartphone), or click the I can’t access any of the above radio button
- Press the Next button
- If you select alternate email address, then password reset instructions are sent
- If you select mobile phone, then a code will be sent that you will have to type in the next screen
- If you select I can’t access any of the above, then you will have to answer two personalized questions that you chose when you created the account
- Type in your new password and confirm it
- Press the Next Button
Gmail: Can’t access your account? link.
- Click the I forgot my password or My password doesn’t seem to be working radio button
- Enter your User ID and captcha
- Answer the personalized question that you chose when you created the account
- Type in your new password and confirm it
- Press the Reset Password button
Check your security options
Regardless of which email provider you are using, you should ensure that you have an alternate email address and security questions. You will need to log into your email account. There will be a link to check your account settings. In this area, you will be able to change your password, add an alternate email address, and check your security questions. Note: Please remember that a confirmation email will be sent to your alternate email address. You will need to confirm that is your account.
Please ensure that you are not choosing security questions that anyone who has an idea of you will figure out. You want to select the ones that will be hard for even your own mother to come up with.
Yahoo! has the additional security where you can add a sign-in seal. This seal is a word or an image that you have chosen that lets you know that you are actually on your sign-on page. These are the steps to add one:
- On any Yahoo! sign-on page, click the Create your sign-on seal link
- Choose Create a text seal or Upload an image
- If you choose text, then create a message that only you will know
- If you choose an image, upload one and select the color scheme
- After you preview your text or image seal, press the Save This Seal button
- It should now appear on the Yahoo! sign-on page
However, the sign-on seal is only for the computer you are currently on. Yahoo! should think about having the sign-on seal appear regardless of the computer you are on. Financial institutions have used sign-on seals as an additional security layer for years, and it doesn’t have to be specifically on one computer.
I can’t get access to my email account at all
There are times that you still can’t get into your email account. Maybe the person who hacked into your account already moved quickly and changed your password, alternate email address, and security quetions. What can you do then? You will have to work with your email provider’s Customer Support to get the problem resolved.
For Hotmail, you have go through numerous prompts before you able to access their Customer Support to fill out a form:
- Click the Help Central link
- Click any of the questions in the FAQs list
- In the lower-right hand corner, click the Get More Help link
- Click the Get Support link to get to the form
For Yahoo! Mail, it’s a little misleading if you try to use the My account may have been compromised option when resetting your password. The best way is to go directly to Yahoo! Help, and click the Report Abuse link. You will be taken to the form where you can have someone from Yahoo to contact you.
For Gmail, it’s very quick and simple to get some assistance. Click the My account has been compromised radio button. A link to the account recovery form will appear.
Out of all three services, Yahoo! seems to provide the most security, and make it easier for you to get access to your email account, if you need to. Hotmail seems to be a little difficult to navigate, and Gmail is a little too easy for anyone to get into your email.