This past Thursday afternoon I was taking some personal time and walking with my parents and son outside a lifestyle center when the calls started coming in. First from my sales director, then my assistant, both informing me our email account was hacked and we were not able to send, receive, or even access our emails. Soon came the calls from clients, prospects and friends calling me, sounding almost frightened, “Rod, did you send me this document, or is it spam?!”

[Tweet “Let me share some quick steps you should consider when your email gets hacked”]

We have all been there, or will be there in the future. Allow me to share some quick steps you should consider when (not if) this happens to you.

Don’t Panic

Everyone around me seemed to be in a panic. This is when I generally install my “worry rule”. If it’s something out of your control, you can’t do anything about it, so do your best not to worry. If it’s something in your control, then there is no need to worry about it. Just focus on those items you can control.

[Tweet “If it’s out of your control, you can’t do anything about it. Just do your best not to worry”]

Contact Your Email Admin

Most likely you can’t email them, so pick up the phone and tell them immediately of the issue. You should have their number in your CRM and not in some list in file you saved in your email folders. Won’t do you much good if you rely on your email for your contacts and you can’t access them. For us, we immediately called our Google Apps support/consultant and they immediately resolved the email issues and reset all our passwords. They also shared with us this happens to everyone. However, there was still more to do.

[Tweet “Store all your contacts’ email addresses and phone numbers in a CRM database”]

Reset ALL your passwords

Change the passwords not only on your email system, but all your programs. It is unfortunate, but likely you shared your passwords and other confidential information in your emails. Also, don’t create your own passwords, as they are most likely more obvious than you care to admit. Use password auto generation tools. Just Google “best password generators” and you can find several.

[Tweet “Use a password generator to generate stronger passwords”]

Let everyone know you have been hacked

You may feel embarrassed at first, but what the heck do you need to feel embarrassed about! Worse, what if one of your clients, family members or friends downloads a virus from an email generated from your system? As soon as we learned of the hack, we sent a mass email out to everyone on our contact list, letting them know our email system was compromised and which specific email to delete. We also assured them that we were doing everything to remedy the situation.  Also suggest they run a virus scan, simply to be safe. Being proactive will also reflect you are in control and taking the issue seriously.

Notify your IT department, IT vendor or your cousin who knows something about computers

Speaking of virus scans, you don’t know what the intentions are of the hack, so make sure your computer systems are scanned and swept as soon as you can. Some of you may work independently, so it may seem like a pain to bring your computer into someone for checking, but be safe. We immediately called our computer support vendor and they scanned all our computers. Thankfully our attack was limited to our email, but it was a phishing attack none the less.

Keep an eye on all your financial and personal records

Depending on the level of the attack, which you can’t really ever tell, you need to make sure none of your major accounts were also compromised. Monitor your financial records, credit accounts and general stuff as such. You can be proactive and cancel all your credit cards, but hopefully you have proper protections in place.

Enjoy the moment

What! How can you possibly enjoy getting hacked? If you have the right team around you, like we fortunately do, you get to spend some time without emails!! Believe it or not, it really makes that personal time so much more enjoyable. Once I shared with our team these steps to address the hack, I went back to enjoy time with my folks, knowing I would be email free, if only for a few short hours.

 [Tweet “Don’t panic when your email system is hacked. Follow these 7 quick steps to resolve the issue.”]

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