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Background

Last month I noticed lots of failed emails in my inbox and after few minutes I lost my access to my Yahoo Mail. My friends informed me that they have received spam emails from me.

So I called Yahoo customer care and they helped restore/reset my password and I then made a very strong password.

I was at peace until last night when I noticed that there was a new failed email and today another one! So I called again and they connected to my laptop and scanned my both Yahoo and Gmail accounts. They told me that someone had gained access to all my email accounts and network and the hacker knows my IP address and can also access your pictures and your laptop...

They then offered me a software solution for the price of $280 to secure my network for against future hackers, but I'm not sure if it really helps!

Question

What I would like to know is:

  1. Is there anyway to know how much of my data was exposed? Or stolen? Can I know if they really got my pictures? Or anything else?
  2. Is there anyway to secure my network? Or do I have to close my email accounts and change my laptop?

I really need an expert's help. Thanks in advance....

  • @Shams A few words to prevent this in future. Do not have the same password for all your accounts. Do not store sensitive information(id,password,answer for security questions,etc.,) in your emails. Change your passwords periodically. – Ebenezar John Paul Oct 16 '13 at 5:08
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    @Shams - What did you to ensure you were really talking to Yahoo! support? Where did you get their phone numbers from? At the risk of being ultra-paranoid, if you have searched for their phone numbers on the same potentially hacked computer, or even on a different computer but within the same network (e.g., your home network), you should not assume you are talking to the actual Yahoo! support team. – Lex Oct 16 '13 at 9:16
  • You were probably talking to Mother or Whistler; Yahoo customer support quality is about that old. – LateralFractal Oct 16 '13 at 9:48
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Is there any way to know how much of my data was exposed? Or stolen? Can I know if they really got my pictures? Or anything else?

This will depend on your operating system and what behaviour gets logged automatically. That you knew that you were hacked indicates the hacker wasn't covering their tracks very well.

Still, most service accounts when someone logs in will provide carte blanche access to all assets. So if a specific account was breached - assume they took everything. Otherwise it will depend on how much security logging the computer or online web service did and whether anyone will want to check these often cryptic audit logs for free.

Is there anyway to secure my network?

Yes. Many ways to secure a network. Too many list here. But you can start with this guide.

Or do I have to close my email accounts and change my laptop?

No - you don't need to close your accounts or sell your laptop. But you do need to reconfigure your accounts and laptop.

For your computer

  1. Install malware/virus scanner and check that no corrupt apps exist on your laptop. You need to do this first to ensure no corrupted backup tool re-injects viruses/trojans.
  2. Restore your computer from a full backup prior to the breach date (if known); or if no full backup available: Backup everything except applications or anything that executes code; then factory wipe/reinstall your laptop to the original clean operating system and then reinstall applications from clean read-only or internet sources. Then restore backed up data.
  3. Install a decent firewall and anti-virus solution.
  4. (Optional) Request your ISP to provide a different static or sticky-dynamic IP for your computer so that the prior attacker can't easy find you any more. This can be useful if they were targeting your computer specifically

For online services (email, gaming, forums, digital storage, social networking, etc). Assumes that you do this from an uncorrupted computer:

  1. Get a good strong password manager.
  2. Log into each breached account (if you can; otherwise contact the provider)
  3. Change the password with one generated by the password manager. Longer is better, and never use the same password on two different sites.
  4. Change any secret security questions if you can. Opt for nonsense questions or answer if you can. e.g. Q: What is your mother's maiden name? A: E-S-V-F-H-N
  5. Check that your email address for the account hasn't been changed. As many services send password reset links to your account's email address.
  6. Check for any tweaked or altered security settings, such as authorised third-party apps, client certificates, public keys, email forwarding, account visibility/privacy settings.

This can be tedious, so it is up to you whether you wish to do this yourself or pay an expert to do it. If the time and materials (money) for doing this exceeds the cost of a new laptop and porting content across, then you could resort to truly clean slate of new equipment.

  • Good stuff. (+1) for a simple and clean answer. – Ebenezar John Paul Oct 16 '13 at 5:04
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    Incidentally, regarding password managers: Do not choose a closed-source/proprietary password manager, no matter how 'sexy' the manager. As anything important enough to need a password manager should not be dependent on whether the company exists in 10 years time or could introduce backdoors under a government gag order. We went through enough of this close-sourced security hogwash in the 1990s with ceRtain enterpriSe compAnies. – LateralFractal Oct 16 '13 at 5:09
  • Yes there is a possibility.In that case, it doesn't matter how strong and secure our password managers may be. And i got your encrypted message ;) – Ebenezar John Paul Oct 16 '13 at 5:18
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    I would recommend to switch the order in the last section: First get a clean system, then start changing passwords. It's pointless to change passwords when you still have malware on your system which immediately rats out all the new passwords to a botnet. – Philipp Oct 16 '13 at 8:10
  • @Philipp Ok. Will do. Was assuming sections were independent, but of course a person would probably use their corrupted laptop for the service account adjustments. – LateralFractal Oct 16 '13 at 8:31

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