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How to recover a hacked YouTube account (and how to protect it)

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Hackers and hijackers are always on the prowl targeting various accounts, like emails and YouTube channels. And sometimes, they are able to attack high-profile accounts that get reported on the news, like the hacking incident of ABS-CBN’s YouTube channel.

The issue has since been resolved, but hackers are still a threat to every one of our accounts. A common fault we have is thinking that these hackers only target bigger channels, so we become complacent about our own account details. Hackers can target any one of us, and so we need to know what to do to retrieve our accounts if ever it happens.

What are the signs your YouTube account got hacked or compromised?

The first sign that your YouTube account got hacked is if you can no longer sign in with the account details that you use for the account. This means that the hacker has already changed your password with a new one.

If you are still signed in to your account, you may notice some of the following if you have been hacked, hijacked, or compromised:

Changes to your account that you did not make

  • Your profile picture
  • Email settings
  • Account descriptions
  • AdSense association
  • Other changes

Uploaded videos that are not yours

If you notice any of these signs that your YouTube or Google account may have been hacked, there are easy steps that you can take to get it back.

If you can still sign in to your Google account:

Visit Google’s Security Checkup to help secure your account. From this page, you can see and edit different security measures, such as:

  • Sign-in and recovery
  • Your devices
  • Recent security events
  • 2-Step Verification
  • Third-party access
  • Your saved passwords

If you suspect that your account may have been hacked or compromised, you can check under the “Recent security events” panel for any unusual security events recorded, like a sign-in from a new and unrecognized device or a sensitive account setting change.

If you do not recognize doing these events, they may be signs that someone else is using your account. When you click “Don’t recognize an event?”, you will be prompted to change your password to protect your Google account. Doing so will sign you out of all devices except the one you’re currently using.

Under the “Your devices” panel, you can see all of the devices where you are currently signed in. You can instantly sign out of a device that you are not currently using. If you don’t recognize a device, you can also change your password and sign out from all other devices except your current device.

If you can’t sign in to your Google account:

You can get help getting your account back through Google’s Account Recovery. You will be asked some questions to confirm that it is your account. Answer as many questions as possible, and try not to skip any questions. If you don’t remember the answer to the security question, take your best guess instead of skipping.

It would also be helpful if you use a familiar device or are in a familiar location when you try to recover your account. If possible, use a device (computer, phone, tablet) where you frequently sign in and be in a location or network where you usually sign in, like at home or at work.

Once Google is able to confirm your account, you can now reset your password. Choose a strong password that you haven’t previously used with your account.

How to protect your YouTube account

Now that you have recovered your YouTube or Google account, you need to prevent any future hacking incidents by strengthening the security of your account. Here are a few ways that you can do to protect your Google account:

Have a strong password

Your password is your account’s first line of defense against any hackers or bad intentions, so make sure that your new password is strong and unique. Some tips for creating a strong password are:

  • Use at least 12 characters
  • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Don’t use any personal information, like your nickname or your pet’s name
  • Avoid simple words or patterns that are easy to guess, like “abcd” or “password”
  • Use a different password for each of your important accounts, like your email and online banking
  • Consider using a trusted password manager

Enable two-step verification

Two-step verification includes another layer of security to your account in case your password gets stolen. When two-step verification is enabled, signing into your account will require two steps: entering your password, and answering a prompt with your phone.

  • Go to your Google Account, and select “Security” from the left navigation panel.
  • Under “Signing into Google”, select “2-step Verification” and click “Get started.”
  • Follow the steps onscreen.

Once two-step verification has been successfully set up, you will now need to complete a second step to verify it’s you when you’re signing in.

If you are signed in on your Google account on an Android phone or iPhone, this can be in the form of Google prompts or push notifications. Otherwise, you will need to enter a verification code that you will receive via SMS.

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Set up recovery options

In case Google detects suspicious or unusual activity or you get locked out of your account, you can easily regain access if you have set up your recovery options. These include a recovery email address and a recovery phone number.

Add a recovery email address

  • Go to your Google Account, and select “Personal Info” from the left navigation panel.
  • Under “Contact info”, click Email.
  • Click “Add Recovery Email.”

Add a recovery phone number

  • Go to your Google Account, and select “Personal Info” from the left navigation panel.
  • Under “Contact info”, click Phone.
  • Click “Add Recovery Phone.”

Losing access to your YouTube account is a terrible experience that can happen to anyone, but there are some things that you can do to recover your account after the fact.

But remember that prevention is always better than cure. By strengthening the security of your YouTube account, you can avoid any hackers or bad intentions from stealing your account in the first place.

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