Your email account contains a wealth of information. For a hacker, it’s like sticking his or her hand into the sweetie jar. If you go through your old emails, you will find all kinds of useful information, including bank account numbers sent via email and online shopping login information. Often, on its own, a piece of information is worthless, but when combined with other information, such as a date of birth or maiden name, it becomes far more valuable. As a result, it’s not surprising that hackers love to hack email accounts.
As recently as December 2016, Yahoo! was forced to admit that one billion accounts had been compromised by the biggest hack in history. It wasn’t the first time the tech giant had been hacked. 500 million accounts were compromised in 2014. What this shows is that nobody is safe, but if you take a few prudent security measures, you can at least make it harder for a hacker to access your account.
Students studying for information security degrees at Norwich University learn about cyber security as part of their studies, but just because you have an MSIA degree, it doesn’t mean you are safe. There are many signals to look out for if you are concerned your account has been compromised.
Signs Your Email Has Been Hacked
If you are suddenly being inundated with spam or unwanted emails, it’s not a good sign. Your contacts may start receiving spam emails from your account, or you could suddenly discover you can’t log into your account. If you spot these signs, you need to reset your password.
Choosing the right password is crucial. A simple, easy to guess password is a piece of cake for a skilled hacker. There is tech out there that can easily test millions of passwords a minute, so if you use a word from the dictionary or your child’s name, it won’t take long to crack. Instead, create a long, difficult to guess password.
Passwords should always be at least 10 characters long, and a mixture of upper and lower case letters, digits and characters. These are very difficult to crack, so unless a hacker has access to your password, he won’t be able to get into your account without a lot of effort.
Hack Prevention Tips
Be vigilant for viruses and malware. Hackers often use viruses as a backdoor into your email account – and other online accounts. Never open a suspicious file attached to an email from someone you don’t know. Install up-to-date antivirus to protect your machine from viruses and malware.
Choose an email provider that offers two-factor authentication. So, instead of just typing in a password, you have to wait for a key to be sent to your mobile, or similar. This extra layer of security is a great deterrent to hackers.
Don’t login to your email over a public Wi-Fi network, as there could be hackers sitting nearby waiting to harvest your password.
Lastly, never use the same password for multiple accounts, or you are asking for trouble.