Your email inbox might as well be your entire life. You may not realize that your inbox has just about everything a hacker could ever want or need to own your entire life. Both your personal email and your business email pose a serious liability if you haven’t fortified them against hackers and familiarized yourself with the best safety practices.
Why Hackers Love Email
You need an email address to do almost anything. Every account you have required an email address for verification. Your social media, your banking information, and your online bill payments require that email address. It essentially serves as your identity online. Think about everything you have sitting in your inbox right now.
A hacker can gain access to your email and use the “Forgot Password” feature on almost every website you’ve ever visited to reset your password and lock you out of your account. Once they’re inside, they have access to any and all information stored within those accounts. Your email account is a Russian nesting doll of every important, confidential, private, or sensitive thing you can ever do.
Hackers love to target businesses and organizations via email attacks because all it takes is a single employee to make one lone mistake. That person gets hacked, and all the information in that person’s inbox has fallen into a hacker’s lap. The hacker can then send emails from that account to other members of the company, creating the perfect social engineering scheme that most of that person’s contacts are likely to fall for.
Email is the key to everything, and one small mistake or unchecked vulnerability can leave a user prone to something as severe as complete identity theft.
Spotting Simple Threats
You and the people you work with need to be aware of common email hacking methods. Merely knowing what to look for can make a world of difference in preventing what can turn out to be a data disaster or the theft of every last cent in your bank account.
Everyday email users are often targeted by scammers who are people that promise to send them money for completing favors. In modern times, the scam is somewhat tired. Most people are familiar with scams that involve princes or millionaires in different countries pretending to need their help. These scams have been exposed time and time again, although people do still fall into the trap.
Businesses are also subject to fraudulent emails where the sender may pose as a customer or a client. Sophisticated scams will sometimes involve a hacker spoofing a higher up’s email address to request information from a lower level employee. Always check senders. If a request seems odd, ask for a phone call with the individual to verify the details and identity of that individual.
Phishing schemes are often successful. Typically, a phishing scheme will arrive in the form of a spoofed email from the account provider claiming that a login attempt was made and a password needs to be changed to protect the user’s account. People believe these schemes because they seem like the exact opposite of a scam – they believe they’re doing something to keep themselves safer. W
hen the user clicks the link, they’re taken to a page where they type in their password and submit it directly to the hacker. It’s so incredibly easy for a malicious entity to merely ask for your password and receive it.
Before you click any password reset link, make sure the sender is actually the person it appears to be. Look carefully for inconsistencies, typographical errors, or broken English. If you still aren’t sure, contact the company directly at an email address you can verify belongs to them.
Upping the Security
User error is the largest vulnerability in the world. Failing to take steps to protect yourself or making simple mistakes may make things easier for you in the moment, but they also make things easier for hackers.
Start With Your Password
The easiest way to get hacked is to use an easy password. The simpler the password, the simpler it is for someone to gain access to your account. Completely randomized passwords are harder to crack, especially when they contain a case sensitive mixture of numbers, letters, and symbols. The longer the password, the stronger it will be.
Never use the same password for two accounts. If someone compromises the password for one account, they can try it for other accounts. Leaving yourself vulnerable in one area can open up a string of vulnerabilities. Every random password should be distinct and unique.
Lastly, change your passwords from time to time. If the passwords are strong and difficult, they won’t need to be changed every few weeks. Creating new passwords once or twice a year can serve as an additional insurance policy.
Use Two Factor Authentication
Most websites offer two factor authentication to verify that the person logging in is the account holder. Usually, this involves texting a code to the user’s phone. After they’ve entered their password, they’ll need to enter the code as a second password. Some devices may utilize biometrics as a form of two factor authentication, and those are even trickier to bypass.
Hardware authenticators are among the strongest options for two factor authentication if biometrics are not available. These usually come in the form of portable USB devices that must be attached and read while logging in in order to complete the action.
Use Encrypted Email
The easiest way to protect yourself from an email hack is to use an encrypted email service and browse exclusively through a VPN. There’s no way anyone is going to get any information from you or intercept your activity if they cannot see what you’re doing and do not have the necessary encryption keys to read your emails.
PrivateMail offers OpenPGP end-to-end encrypted email service and paranoid encrypted cloud storage. No one will be able to access anything you do. We also offer top of the line security filtering that will reduce the potential that anything resembling phishing or fraud will ever enter your inbox. Nobody besides you and the intended recipient – not even the PrivateMail team – will have any idea what exists in your inbox or cloud storage.
TorGuard VPN is an unlimited bandwidth VPN service with thousands of servers across the world. You can use it on your machine or through a VPN router, like one from PrivateRouter. This adds another layer of security to your home or business network that can prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and avert the prying eyes of a nosy internet service provider.
Switch to PrivateMail
Stop worrying about your safety and switch to PrivateMail. PrivateMail is a valuable option for both everyday email users and businesses who need to maintain the security of their inboxes. Exchanging intellectual property, legal or financial information, or files that need to remain HIPAA compliant is easy with PrivateMail.