How To Protect Yourself From Email Breaches?

2.0K views
5 min read

Most of the time, you don’t think much about malware, phishing, or getting hacked online. You know that it’s something that happens regularly, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. 

If you have an up-to-date multi-step security plan, maybe you have nothing to worry about. But if you haven’t been vigilant about setting up two-factor authentication on every website you visit or reusing a password you can easily remember, it might be beneficial for you to perform a security checkup and analyze your email inboxes for any suspicious activity. 

Email breach tends to be the target for most hackers because it’s the center of your online life. Your email is connected to your bank account, all government services (and your SIN), and can be used to orchestrate phishing attacks on your contacts as well. 

So here are a few things you can do right now to verify your Mac security and conduct the email hacked check with a website like Have I Been Pwned?

What Is A Data Breach?

It’s important to know that the risk of you getting hacked doesn’t always depend on your actions directly, but rather the services you use. Any large online software company gets attacked constantly. And while most attacks are unsuccessful, eventually hackers are able to break even into the most secure companies in the world. Dropbox, Kickstarter, Adobe — all of them suffered email breaches. 

To put it simply, a data breach is an unauthorized reveal of personal information to a third party (e.g. hackers). This data can include your name, address, email, phone number, password, etc. Hackers then use the newly harvested data to try to access other services online. That’s why reusing your password is so dangerous. Through no fault of your own, just one data breach would be enough to hack all of your online accounts. 

How to find out if you’ve been hacked

As mentioned above, lots of your online services can be hacked. But the most critical of all is your email account, since it directly connects to everything else. 

So it’s good to be aware of what’s happening in your email inbox. Are you noticing that some of your emails are disappearing? Do you see emails in the Sent folder that you haven’t written? Are your friends complaining they get spam from you? Has your account been accessed from IPs that don’t belong to you? 

The first steps to checking if you’ve been hacked are looking through emails in your Sent folder and your IP logs. 

To access your IP and location information: 

  1. Log in to your Gmail
  2. Click Details at the bottom of the page, under “Last account activity…” 

For more security information, click Security Check-up. Here, you’ll see all devices that have access to your account (and be able to sign out of any of them), any recent security events (Google is actively monitoring your account and is good at communicating any suspicious activity), whether you’ve turned on two-factor authentication, and any third-party apps that can access your email. 

Gmail Security Check-up

The most obvious indication that your account has been hacked is when you can’t even log in to your email because hackers have changed your password. In this case, visit accounts.google.com/signin/recovery and answer a few security questions to regain email access. 

How to check Have I Been Pwned? 

If you don’t see any suspicious activity in your email account, that doesn’t yet mean you’re safe. First, your login information could be already known to hackers, but just not used. Second, if hackers know your login information, they could start with other online accounts and not necessarily your email. 

So you should check the data breach databases from time to time, to see whether your email shows up in any recent attacks on various online services.

The most famous data breach checker is Have I Been Pwned? To use it: 

  1. Visit haveibeenpwned.com
  2. Enter your email and click Pwned? 

Have I Been Pwned

Have I Been Pwned? will then show you all known email breaches and which information exactly has been leaked. 

The problem is you might not visit Have I Been Pwned? as often as you should for a regular email hacked check. Instead, it would be better if an app on your Mac could do that for you. 

Secrets is an intuitive password manager and has a complete set of features to help you keep your online life secure. That includes a full vulnerability report from Have I Been Pwned? as well. Even better, Secrets checks your login and password in the Pwned database locally — not by sending your password online, but by comparing the first five characters of the SHA-1 hash of your passwords to the hundreds of hashes in the database. 

To know the answer to “has my email been hacked?” in Secrets: 

  1. Launch the app
  2. In the menu bar, go to Item ➙ Vulnerable Logins ➙ Check All Logins. You can also Check Selected Logins if you’re interested in something particular. 

check has your email been hacked in Secrets

Besides, Secrets is a powerful way to avoid endangering your online accounts in the first place. This app can generate and safely store unique passwords for every online service, and then fill them out easily through its browser plugins. Thus, even if your data has been part of any known email breach, you can regenerate a completely new set of passwords and prevent any attacks. But what else can you do if your accounts have been compromised? 

How to protect compromised accounts

As soon as you know that some of your personal information has been stolen, you should check whether your Mac itself has been affected. It’s possible that you might have downloaded a malicious script from one of your emails without knowing it. 

CleanMyMac X presents the easiest way to check the complete security of your Mac: 

  1. Just launch the app
  2. Navigate to Malware Removal
  3. Click Scan
  4. Remove any malware that was found

Malware Removal tool

In addition, CleanMyMac X features a variety of scans to speed up your Mac, clean your hard drive, improve your privacy settings, uninstall apps completely, and more. 

After you’ve changed your passwords and checked your Mac for malware, you should take the extra step and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. 2FA ensures that to access any of your accounts you’d not only use a password but also a temporary code sent to your devices — so without physical access to your phone or Mac, hackers won’t be able to log in anymore. 

Step Two is a simple 2FA app available both on your Mac and iOS. This utility brings a beautiful, minimalistic look to a truly powerful feature. Just add any of your online accounts, and Step Two will automatically and continuously generate one-time passwords for each of them. 

two-factor authentication tool

Canary Mail is another app that will significantly improve your online security. This email client supports manual and automatic PGP encryption, which will make your emails unreadable to anyone who’s spying on your communications. What’s more, Canary Mail offers a beautiful desktop email experience, with focused inbox, delegation, and natural language search features. Convenience and security — the best of both worlds! 

And while you’re upgrading your email experience, make sure to notify all your frequent contacts not to open any links that you might have sent out recently. If you’ve been hacked, you absolutely don’t want to compromise other people’s inboxes. 

Lastly, there’s so much adware and spyware hidden around the web nowadays that it’s becoming difficult to separate what’s real content and what’s not. So a better solution might be to block ads, pop-ups, and invasive trackers altogether. 

AdGuard is a comprehensive solution to your personal privacy on the web. Not only does it completely block ads, it also protects you from tracking, phishing attacks, and other fraudulent activities. As a result, you always have another pair of eyes looking out for your security and your internet browsing actually becomes faster with all the ads and annoying banners turned off. 

Block trackers and ads

As you can see, “has my email been hacked?” is a great question that you should regularly ask yourself. To help your security online, start by reviewing your Google security settings and check your email on Have I Been Pwned? Then, improve the level of your passwords with Secrets, scan your Mac for malware with CleanMyMac X, enable 2FA with Step Two, switch to secure email with Canary Mail, and get rid of all the ads with AdGuard. 

Best of all, Secrets, CleanMyMac X, Step Two, Canary Mail, and AdGuard are all available to you absolutely free for seven days with a trial of Setapp, a platform with over 210 outstanding Mac apps that cover all aspects of your digital life. Try every Setapp app today and find your new favorites at no cost — improving your productivity in the process! 

Get 220+ Mac apps for any job

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.