More recently, has come to be seen as a general term for breaking into protected computing resources via technical means.

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If there’s doubt, consider proactively changing the passwords on those accounts as well.

(There’s a strong argument for checking or changing the recovery information for these accounts, just as you checked for your email account, for all the same reasons.) If your email service provides an out-of-office or vacation-autoresponder feature, or some kind of automatic signature that appears at the bottom of every email you send, it’s possible people already know you’re hacked.

For free email accounts, there usually is customer service.

Your options are generally limited to self-service recovery forms, knowledge base articles, and official discussion forums where service representatives may (or may not) participate.

It can be easily viewed by anyone in range with an appropriate Wi-Fi capable device, such as a laptop, and packe- sniffing software. A hack was originally a clever or unique way of solving a particularly complex computer problem.

Typically, a hack is an inelegant shortcut that might elicit the comment, “It’s not pretty, but it works”.

If the recovery methods don’t work – because the hacker changed everything, or because you no longer have access to the old alternate email or phone – then you may be out of luck.

If recovery options don’t work for whatever reason, your only recourse is to use the customer service phone numbers or email addresses provided by that email service.

Less commonly, the term can also refer in a positive way to someone who implements clever but perhaps inelegant solutions to complex computing problems. You must then use the “I forgot my password” or other account recovery options offered by the service.