SECURITY EVANGELIST

So you just got hacked and lost access to your email or social media account. What now?

First, let’s start with what you shouldn’t do: panic. You’re not the first person to go through this, and you will not be the last.

Big companies know this, and have come up with ways for you to recover your account, and get your online life back on track. In this article, we’re going to go through all the steps you need to follow to recover important accounts such as Gmail, Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

What you need to take into account however, is that each of these companies will first try to figure out if you are actually trustworthy. Here are just some of the elements that will a company determine if you are really you, and not someone else:

  • Have you logged into the account in the past from the same device? If you use the same PC for login and also to recover the account, the email provider has greater confidence that you are you.
  • Do you have two factor authentication activated?
  • Do you have a backup email set up for the account?
  • Have you remembered a past password?
  • Did you answer any security questions?

To help you navigate, here’s a set of internal links to quickly move from one account to the next.

How to recover your Gmail account

Step 1

First you need to access the following link: https://accounts.google.com/signin/recovery and type in your email address

recover your email or facebook account

Step 2

Now you need to enter the last password you remember. Try to be as accurate as possible, since an accurate password is more likely to determine if you are who you say you are.

recover your email or facebook account

Recovering Gmail account when you provided a phone number or tap to login authentication

If you provided a phone number for two factor authentication, you will be taken to this screen, where you must confirm the exact number you used.

recover your email or facebook account

Step 3

 

If you secured your account with a push notification prompt, you will be taken to this screen:

recover your email or facebook account

By now, you should receive a push notification your device that asks if you are actually you.

If you receive the push notification and say “Yes”, your recovery is nearly complete, and will receive a verification code on a back-up email of your choice.

Step 4 –  If you don’t have a back-up email, you will be asked to provide one:

If you already have a backup email registered , you will receive an email directly to that address:

Step 5

Google will then send a verification code to the address of your choice.

Step 6

You will then have to input the verification code from your email into the browser dialog box:

Step 7

Once you enter the code, Google will ask that you create a strong, new password for your account.

We strongly recommend you use this opportunity to set a strong password that meets the following criteria:

      • Is at least 10 characters long.
      • Is at least 10 characters long.
      • Contains at least one upper and lower case letter.
      • Has at least one number.
      • Uses one special character.

Recovering your Gmail account when you don’t have a phone number, tap to login or backup email set up

Step 3

If you didn’t have any of these security measures in place, you will be taken from this screen:

recover your email or facebook account

To this screen, that asks when you first created your account:

As always, try to be as accurate as possible, to cement Google’s trust that you are indeed the real user behind this account.

Step 4

Next, Google will ask for an email address where they can send a verification code. As you can see in the screenshot below, Google prefers an email that was previously associated with the account, such as a backup email.

Step 5

After you entered an email address, you will be asked to enter the code you received.

Check your email for the code you just got, and fill it in.

Step 6

After you press “Next”, you will send your recovery request to Google.

Step 7

Now, everything is in Google’s court. They are the ones who will decide, based on the information you provided, whether your account is legitimate or not.

If they approve your request, you will receive the following email, requesting you change your password:

Step 8

Follow the link and change your password:

Next, you’ll be taken to a screen that asks you provide some ways to recover your account, such as a recovery phone or email.

We very strongly recommend you fill in both of these:

By now, this should be it, and your account should be back into your hands and safe and secure!

If you want to take things directly to Google in order to recover your account, we suggest you use this link to find the best option available to contact them.

How to recover your Yahoo email account

Step 1

To recover your Yahoo! Mail password, first try to log into your account. If your password is changed, select “I forgot my password”.

Recovering your Yahoo! Mail account when you backed it up with a phone number

Step 2

If you connected your account to a phone number, Yahoo! will ask for confirmation that you can access the phone, so they can send an Account Key.

Step 3

You should receive an SMS code on your phone with the Yahoo Account Key:

how to recover your yahoo email account

Once you enter the code you received, you should be logged into your account. But first, you will be taken to this menu that asks you review your account recovery information such as email or phone number.

We STRONGLY suggest you fill out both of these back-up options.

Recovering your Yahoo! Mail account when you backed it up with an email account

Step 2

If you haven’t connected your Yahoo! Mail account to your phone number or you no longer have access to that phone number, you will asked to use an account key sent over email in order to log in.

Check your email for the account key you received from Yahoo!

Step 3

Once you enter the key, you should be logged into your Yahoo! account and asked to enter some recovery options such as email and phone numbers.

Unfortunately, Yahoo! doesn’t offer any more in-depth options for you to recover your account. If your account wasn’t backed up using any of these measures, you’re out of luck and will have to start from scratch.

Here’s a link you can use to help you get in touch with Yahoo and also how to report hacking attempts carried out against your email.

How to recover your Outlook email account

Step 1

First, try to log into your Outlook account. If login fails, press the “I forgot my password” option.

Step 2

Out of the three options selected, choose which one fits your suspicions. If it’s the third one, you will be prompted to select an option from a drop down menu.

Choose the one appropriate to your situation. For the sake of this article, we chose “Other”.

Step 3

The recovery process now starts, and you will be taken to a page with a CAPTCHA form.

Recovering an Outlook account when it’s backed up with a phone number or a recovery email

Step 4  – You have an email or a phone number attached to the account

You will next be taken to a page that requests either a back-up email or a recovery phone, or “I don’t have any of these”.

For this step, we first chose the recovery email option and pressed “Send Code”. Since the process for the phone option is identical with the email one, there’s no need for separate steps.

Step 5

Entering the code will take you to a new form which asks you to set up a new password and then confirm it.

Step 6

You will then be taken to a screen that asks you provide a new password for your account. If you want to know how to set up a strong password to secure your account, we recommend you check out our dedicated password security article.

Step 7

Once you change your password, your recovery should be complete and the account is back in your control.

recover your microsoft outlook email account

Recovering an Outlook account when you can’t access a recovery phone number or email

Step 5 – What if you don’t have an email or a phone number?

If you haven’t secured your Outlook account with either an email or a phone number, or you lost your access to these, then you will need to check the last option “I don’t have any of these”.

Step 6

You will next be taken to a page that asks for an email Microsoft can use to communicate with you.

Step 7

Microsoft will send you a security code on the email address you just typed in.

Step 8

Enter that code in the dialog box, and press enter.

Step 9

You will now be sent to a page with several forms which you need to fill in before completing the process.

Just like in Google’s case, Microsoft asks that you fill in the forms from a device you previously used to log into the lost account. This strengthens their confidence that it’s really you who are trying to recover the account.

Be as exact and precise as possible when filling in the forms, and press next once you’re ready.

Step 10

You’ll be taken to a new screen that asks if you’ve used your Outlook account together with any other Microsoft service or product.

Think really hard about this one, and try to remember if you’ve done anything in the past that might help Microsoft connect you to your lost account.

Also try to remember any previous passwords you might have used to secure your account.

Step 11

By now, the process is complete and you’ll have to wait for Microsoft’s response to your request.

How to recover your Facebook account

So your Facebook account just got breached and someone’s obsessively posting cute cat photos every 10 minutes on your feed.

Fortunately, Facebook does have its own process to recover your account, but it requires that you still control the registration email or a phone number associated with the account.

Step 1

First, you need to visit your lost account from another account. Either ask a friend to help you with this, or just make a new Facebook account and do it from there.

So, visit the Facebook page of your lost account, and click on the 3 dots next to the “Message” option and then click on “Report”.

Step 2

Of the 4 options, choose the third one: “Recover or close this account”.

Step 3

In the following menu, select “Recover your account”.

Step 4

In the next screen, Facebook will ask you for an email (or a phone number if you’ve added one) where they can send you an authentication code. The email address is the one you’ve used to register the account or a secondary email address you’ve added along the way.

Step 5

If you used the email or phone option, you will receive a message with an authentication code.

Type this confirmation code in Facebook’s recovery form.

Step 6

After you’ve entered this confirmation code, Facebook will ask that you enter a new password. Use our guide to help you figure out a strong password.

Step 7

After you’re done setting up your password, you will be asked if you want to be remotely logged out of all devices.

This is a very useful feature, since even though you changed your password and recovered your account, the malicious hacker is still logged into your account and can continue to post from it.

We strongly suggest you click the “Log out of other devices” option.

And that’s it! You should have recovered your account.

Step 6 – If you’ve lost your original registration email or don’t have a phone number

If you don’t have access to your registration email or a phone number, click the blue text that says “No longer have access to these?”.

Unfortunately, things get complicated at this point.

Step 7

Facebook offers you a set of links to help you recover your account at the three most popular email providers out there: Microsoft, Google and Yahoo!

The steps required to recover your account from each of these providers have been outlined above.

If, following these steps, you are still unable to access the email you used to register your account, then chances are your Facebook account is lost for good.

If you want to go more in-depth when contacting Facebook, check out this article.

How to recover your Twitter account

Step 1

If the malicious hacker changed your Twitter password, click on the “Forgot Password?” text to start the recovery process.

Step 2

Follow the on-screen instructions and type in your accounts username or email.

Recovering your Twitter account when you have access to a phone number or a backup email

Step 3

Next up, you will be asked for the registration email or verification phone number associated with the account.

Step 4

Twitter will then send you an email with a link to reset your password.

Step 5

In this next screen, Twitter will ask you to enter a new password. Use this guide of ours to help you set up a strong password.

After you’ve set up a new password you should automatically be logged in to your account.

Recover your email when you do not have access to a phone number or recovery email

Step 3 –  You don’t have access to your registration email account or a phone number

If you lost access to your registration email, you need to click the “I don’t have access to any of these”.

Step 4

This will take you to a screen that asks which account are you currently trying to recover. Type in the Twitter account you lost access to.

Step 5

Next, you will be asked for an email that Twitter can use to contact you, and also a form where you can input your reasons to why you lost access to your account.

Step 6

After you’ve filled out all the steps, you’ll need to arm yourself with patience while Twitter processes your request and contacts you a few days later.

how to recover your Twitter account

How to recover your Instagram account

Instagram has advanced account recovery options available only from its mobile app. The desktop one only offers password reset settings.

Before you start however, it’s worth noting Instagram’s policy regarding hacked and deleted accounts:

If your account was deleted by you, or someone with your password, there’s no way to restore it”.

In other words, once you lose your Instagram account, it’s permanent.

Still, here are the ways you can recover your account as long as it hasn’t yet been deleted:

Recover your account from the mobile app

Step 1

In the Login screen, press the “Get help signing in” text.

 

Step 2

The next screen offers you a set of options to access your account, depending on how you created it. Choosing the email or phone number options will send you a password reset link either on your phone or email.

 

Change your password using the reset link Instagram sent you.

No access to the registration email or other back-up contact details

Step 3 – You don’t have access to your registration email or a phone number

If you lost access to both your email account and phone number, you’ll have to dig deeper and press the “Need more help?” text.

 

Step 4

This will take you to a list of options that will help describe your account so that Instagram can properly recover it.

Choose the options that best suit your situation. Also, be sure to fill in the “Any additional details?” box with as much relevant information as possible. The more in-depth you explain you situation, the easier it will be for Instagram employees to correctly recover your account.

Step 5

After this step, everything is in Instagram’s hands, and you will have to wait for a response from them.

Reset Instagram password from desktop

Step 1

From the Login page, click the “Forgot” text on the right side of the password field.

Step 2

Next, you will be taken to a screen that asks for your registration email, alongside a CAPTCHA code.

Notice there isn’t an option in case you lost access to the email account you used to register the account.

 

Step 3

After this step, you will receive a link for a password reset link. Follow the on screen instructions to change your password and get back into your account.

how to recover your instagram account

How to prevent your accounts from getting hacked

The best way to keep yourself safe is to prevent a hack from taking place in the first place. To help you with this, here’s a short checklist you can follow to keep your accounts safe:

  • Use only strong passwords to secure your accounts and prevent brute force or dictionary attacks.
  • Learn how to recognize phishing emails and avoid to click any links included in them or download their malicious attachments.
  • Use an up to date antivirus solution and frequently scan your computer for any malicious malware that might steal your information, such as keyloggers and spyware.
  • Don’t visit strange and phishy websites. You should especially be on the lookout for websites that don’t have “https” at the end.
  • Don’t click on online ads. JavaScript is the technology behind most online ads, but it comes with numerous vulnerabilities that allow malicious hackers to turn it into a malware spreading tool.
  • Always use two-factor authentication for every account that supports it.
  • Here’s where you can cybercrimes such as these in the USA or EU.
  • Learn how to properly secure your FacebookInstagramTwitter  or email accounts in general.

Conclusion

Losing an account is never a pleasant experience. Fortunately, most email and social media providers out there offer extensive features to recover them.

As you can see however, adding two-factor authentication, recovery emails or other security measures will greatly simply the process, while making it much quicker. Remember the old prover “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”.

Have you ever lost access to your accounts and had to resort to back-up measures such as these? What was the result? Did your online habits change after this experience? Leave us a comment below.

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Comments

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T.M. Robinson-Mosley on March 18, 2018 at 4:28 am

My Facebook page was hacked nearly a week ago. The hacker changed my email address and passoword, and changed the language to Arabic on my account, and I was locked out. I followed all of the above steps and reported my account as compromised/hacked several times. They took me through a process of submitting a new email address, and I received an email (in Arabic, but I used Google translate) to my new email address to provide documentation to verify my identity. I provided three forms of documentation, including my driver’s license and my professional license to practice (I’m a psychologist). But it has been nearly a week, and I have not received a response. I’ve replied to the same email strain about 4 times. How long does it take to verify my ID, and when can I expect to hear something? I believe my account is offline at this time.

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Hello and thanks for reaching out! We didn’t know about this issue and didn’t receive feedback on it from other readers. It could be an issue with your browser. Could you send us a screenshot of how the text is displayed to iri@heimdalsecurity.com and investigate it? Thank you!

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