Has Your Email Account Been Hacked?

by Wasim Ismail on January 26, 2011

Due to the way we operate online and the amount of users accessing the Internet every single day, many users are unaware that their emails are not protected and being used in fraud messages. You will not know unless you are obviously victimized, by which it’s too late. When operating online, whether its sending email or accessing the internet, security and protection should be in mind, as information can easily be leaked, and before you know it its available to hackers.

One of my close friends debit card details got stolen and his bank account was empty by someone shopping at the Apple Store (he always wanted an Apple Mac, poor guy someone used his money to buy it), getting back to what I was saying, the funny thing was that the hacker gave him a call and even told him that “I have just emptied your bank account, you should be more careful, as I bought your information online for $2”.
This hacked or thief bought stolen information for as cheap as $2 and bought goods worth of $2,000

How to Know Your Email Account Has Been Hacked

  1. Your sent box has items that you never send or your contacts received claimed emails that you did not mail.
  2. Your emails are going directly to spam box.
  3. You cannot login to your email anymore.
  4. You are receiving bounce messages of your own email.
  5. You are receiving notifications from your provider that there is an unusual activity happening on your account.

These are some of the signs that you should look out for, and if experienced alarm bells should start ringing, as something is not right here.

Some Weaknesses in Email and How to Overcome Them

  1. Assigning Password. As we all know, together with the usernames, passwords are first and foremost the protection of our emails. When we say a web page or file is password protected, we say that it is private to certain people only, those who know the access code. It also means there are contents being protected inside the web page or file. To compromise this content protection is to compromise the password.

    Be careful and tricky in assigning your password. If your username is “gelpen”, do not assign a password such as “gelpen123”. It is too easy to guess. Think of a far different and hard to guess password, you can also combine uppercase with lowercase letters, put some numbers and allowable characters too like “_$%*…etc”. It is also not advisable to use your own name, birthday, pet’s name or some trademarks that may describe you. However, if you do not want to go too far from your username, you can try something like “Gx1pxnGx1pxn”. This is a longer password; we also just change “e” to “x” and “l” to number “1”. You can try combinations such as these to make your passwords.

  1. Relying on Security Questions. Security questions are set up by email providers in case you forgot your login details. However, it is not secure to set a security question like “When is your birthday?” with an answer “January 25, 1984” and this answer is your true birthday. Try tweaking a bit by having the answer as if someone knows couple of information of you, they can always put the two together and access your account.  
  1. Provider’s Email Server Configuration. In this case, you cannot do anything unless you change your email server provider. But if you are using emails like gmail, yahoo or hotmail where you will not be able to change hosting for your email server, you can monitor your sent emails and change passwords periodically.
  1. Negligence of the Email Owner. Make sure you will not leave your emails open at any internet cafe. Also, never give your password to others and be careful in putting your password with someone behind your back or with someone on your shoulders looking at you accessing your emails. This can ruin your online reputation. You may have heard this point over and over again, but trust me people forget and do it all the time, whether they are in a rush, or they get side tracked.

    For example, your in a coffee shop, talking on the phone, buying your coffee and loading up your computer, now your mind is on the conversation that your having, your pulling out change from your pocket to give to the waiter, and at the same time your entering the password of your laptop. The people around you can easily peep over your shoulder and see what your up to without you even noticing as you already have so much to focus on.  Everyone forgets, and it’s just the way our lives are full of stuff, but we should always be more conscious when it comes to security and personal protection.

Protecting your email is very essential for your reputation whether your in business or just personally using an email account, what ever the case, take extra precautions and steps to secure your details. Remember, bad online reputation is like bad reputation to the whole world, as it is open to every corner of the globe.

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thank You For Reading

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