Q: When we try to log in to our Yahoo e-mail account, it recognizes our username but not our password. When we try to access the account using the “forgot my password” link, Yahoo asks us security questions but doesn’t recognize our answers as valid. Can we recover the Yahoo account rather than just create a new one? Have we been hacked?
Brad Larsen, Eau Claire, Wis.
A: Your Yahoo account has been hacked. Whoever took over your account has changed your password and the answers to your security questions, preventing you from accessing the account. To ask Yahoo for help regaining access to your account, see tinyurl.com/y9kh7nel.
The fact that your account was hacked isn’t surprising. Last week, Yahoo’s new owner, telephone company Verizon Communications, disclosed that a 2013 hacker attack accessed the personal information for all of Yahoo’s 3 billion user accounts (see tinyurl.com/y9hnb5th). Yahoo previously said fewer than 1 billion were affected.
As a result, everyone who had a Yahoo account for at least four years is vulnerable, and should change his or her password immediately. (Yahoo is urging users to disable their security questions and use other security measures, such as an “account key,” in which Yahoo asks you to confirm via text message that it’s you trying to log in.)
If you can’t regain access to your existing Yahoo account, I suggest that you don’t open a new one. While Yahoo is now under new management, it’s unclear whether all the technical flaws in Yahoo’s security have been discovered and fixed. Instead, I suggest that you use another large e-mail provider, such as Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com.
Readers who have a working Yahoo e-mail and want to switch to another provider should read my earlier column about how to close a Yahoo account (see tinyurl.com/ycqy3r37).
Q: I can’t sign in to my 10-year-old Facebook account on my PC; the website says my password is incorrect. When I tried to recover my password, Facebook said the Yahoo e-mail address I had provided (as an alternative way for them to contact me) is invalid. I then tried to log in to my Yahoo account, and found that I couldn’t.
Oddly, I can still view my Facebook account on my Android phone, although I’m not able to access any of the Facebook account settings. What can I do?
Roslyn Siudak, Eau Claire, Wis.
A: It sounds as if you have been hacked twice. Your original Yahoo e-mail address was probably hacked first (see the question above.) The hacker was then able to take over your Facebook account. This would be possible if you used the same password for Facebook as you did for the Yahoo account, or if some personal information stored in your Yahoo account allowed the hacker to guess your Facebook password.
My guess is your Android phone can still access Facebook because it has been constantly logged in while the hacker made changes to your Facebook settings. But, because your phone has your now unusable password, it can’t access your Facebook settings. Facebook offers help with accounts that have been hacked (see tinyurl.com/3chj98v).
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