Imagine what it would be like if you woke up one morning to find you’d been hacked.
Whether you were hacked, phished, had malware installed or just don’t know what the heck happened but there’s somebody all up in your e-mail, here are a few good first steps to take following an incident. This is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good start.
Mat Honan knows better than most. You may recall he was infamously hacked last summer. His tips are solid. I’d add a few more.
Use a password management service
In the aftermath of Mat’s experience I reflected on my personal accounts and those I needed for work. If I had to remember everywhere I had an account – and forget about remembering what my login was – I’d have no way. I moved to LastPass a few years ago to help me wrangle them all. 1Password is also well-regarded. Make sure you have a strong password and Google Authenticator set up. I recommend paying the $12/year for the pro service.
Rebuild your PC
New hard drives are inexpensive for your computer. Buy a new one and an external hard drive enclosure. Install the new hard drive in your computer and the old one into the enclosure. If you have one of the Ultrabook style laptops you might need to hire someone to swap the hard drives for you.
Then reinstall the Operating System (OS) from your media backups. If you don’t have them contact the PC manufacturer’s technical support for help. Install your apps and the password management service.
Commit yourself to backups
Everyone should have a backup strategy that works for your needs, technical ability, and economic situation. I recommend starting off using an external hard drive with Windows 7 File Recovery (formerly known as Backup), Windows 8 File History, or Apple OS X Time Machine. I strongly suggest also using a cloud based service like CrashPlan as an extra level of protection. Read Lifehacker’s guide to setting up a solid backup plan for more details.
Also check out Lifehacker’s post to things to do post-hack here.