Help:Compromised accounts

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Help pages How to deal with compromised accounts
This page explains a general process to follow when dealing with accounts that may be compromised.
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How to deal with accounts suspected to be compromised is not always clear, and will vary on a case-by-case basis depending on who first responds and who is around to take action. In general, the following provides a guide to the steps that can be taken.

Fact-finding[edit]

The first step is to determine whether or not the account is actually compromised. If disruptive actions are being taken, then this step can be skipped because the first objective is to protect the wiki. But if the account is not vandalizing, then it can be useful to check through some of their past edits before suggesting that their account is compromised. Are they editing in places that they usually do? Do they have a history of making similar comments to the ones you suspect someone else of making?

Referring[edit]

Once you are reasonably certain that the account may be compromised, it is best to refer the case to someone who can take technical action to prevent disruption to the wiki and help return the account to its original owner. The following groups of people are useful to contact:

  • Stewards, who can lock the account to prevent the password/email from being changed, as well as stopping any immediate abuse. Stewards can also remove the advanced permissions of compromised accounts in an emergency, though this is usually not done if the account has been locked already.
  • WMF's Trust and Safety team can investigate further, by using CheckUser tools or contacting system administrators to check the account's login history.
  • Local CheckUsers, who can confirm if a different IP is being used to access the account.
  • Local administrators, who can block the account if it is taking disruptive actions. Please note that in such cases, a global lock is preferred, since it stops disruption to all projects where the account is active and preserves the user information.

Each group will end up contacting others during the process, either for confirmation or to perform local actions after the emergency has subsided. Advanced permissions may be removed for this portion of the case, if it is suspected that the agent(s) responsible for compromising the account are still trying to access it.

Recovery[edit]

Once a compromised account is locked by stewards, the case is usually forwarded to the Trust and Safety team to investigate and once the rightful owner of the account is contacted, return the account to them.

Follow-up[edit]

Once the account has been returned to the original owner, it will be up to the affected local communities to move forward with other measures to prevent damage to the wiki, which might include removal of advanced permissions and/or blocking the account.