You may not really think too much about the actions of setting up your email account. Normally, you’ll set it up, start using it and forget about it until it’s a little too late. Eventually, one day you are hacked, and the hacker is wreaking all heck on your account and associated accounts. Most users have no idea whatsoever how valuable a hacked email account can be to a hacker, and how much it can ruin your life.
Why is your Email so valuable to hackers?
Should you create a user account online, such as a subscription to Amazon Prime, or Netflix, or buy something on eBay, you are asked to enter your email account address.
By doing this, your address is now linked with all your accounts, which can and usually does include online banking and credit cards, work clients/payments, video conferencing registration, and your social media accounts.
If a hacker can get hold of your personal email address, they will potentially purchase data dumps (lists and databases). What they will then do with these data dumps is look for stolen credentials in data breaches, and marry them up to your email address.
Suddenly, a very bad person now has access to all your online data and can reset the passwords to block you out. Our premium service actually allows you to check if your email address has been included in a data password dump.
Most people you will find, use the same usernames (as talked about in an earlier article), but also use the same passwords across multiple accounts. People know they shouldn’t, but there are literally so many accounts used by the average online user, that it’s almost forced upon us. This weakness, when exploited by hackers, is known as credential stuffing.
This is when a hacker attempts all your old login passwords for an account, on all the other accounts, in the hope of getting lucky and cracking the password.
It was mentioned on Krebon Security as far back as 2013, that hackers can sell a compromised Itunes account for as little as $8, and united.com accounts for as little as $6. Accounts such as Groupon can be sold for $5, which is very low given the amount of money that can be siphoned out of them. Active hacked accounts on Facebook and Twitter can go as low as $2.50 per account.
What other evil acts will a hacker do?
If a hacker can get a foot into your email account, they won’t just use it to send spam and annoy your friends. They usually focus on growing their spam list by gathering details on your contact list.
Due to the emails sent from your account looking legitimate (as it’s to your friends/family), they won’t get ignored as spam emails. Consequently, they will pretend to be you and claim to be in trouble..needing money. They’ll ask you to send money via wire transfer…all whilst you do not know what’s going on.
If you are in the habit of saving emails for good bookkeeping, saving emails of receipts, software license keys, etc, is not good.
Once the hacker gains access, these can and usually are stolen or sold on, or just used to take over your other accounts. E.G, once your email account is hacked, your Google account can now easily be hacked due to the email verification process to reset passwords.
The most worrying point of an email hack is there is literally so much information that can now be gained from you and what is stored online, your bank accounts can now be hacked and social engineering can take over your friend’s accounts.
How does a hacker, hack my email account?
Hackers are an inventive and clever bunch (normally). You’ll get the occasional script kiddy who likes to hack for fun, but a large number of them are professional criminals, hacking you isn’t personal, it’s business. If they don’t get your account, they don’t get paid…so they’re pretty determined.
First, you need to make sure your email provider is secure. By default, online, free, web-based email accounts are not very secure. All it needs is one weak link. They can also take control of your email by infecting your local machine that accesses your emails, with a RAT (remote access tool), or spyware to capture your password.
Nevertheless, no matter how they hack your email account, they can interfere with your employment, friends, colleagues, and other online accounts. You should take good precautions before it’s too late. Will a hacker uses my old website accounts?? yes!!
If your security settings on Facebook are set as public (set as public by default), anyone who knows your email, phone number, or username can find you and see your entire Facebook activity.
Now think about all those old accounts you set up when you were younger. I bet you no longer use 80% of them..nor remember them! A hacker will use tools like reverse search engines to find all your old accounts and gather intelligence on you. You can easily prevent this by closing down your old user profiles. Also, check what email addresses are still alive, and update your security to private on the rest.
How do I protect my Email Account?
Hackers have an unlimited inventive list of ways to hack into your email account. They are, in a sense, experts in computer security. But also social experts, with a good ability to predict your reactions to particular actions before doing so, a little like playing chess.
You should be very selective on who you use to provide your email services, for a start. Run-of-the-mill online web-based emails are not very secure as a standard and are by default vulnerable to being hacked.
The next consideration you should have is to enable multi-factor verification for all login attempts and all services linked to your account. All the online web-based email accounts now offer multi-factor verification, which you should use. You should also review the online accounts that you use, or ones that you may have forgotten about and no longer exist.
Take Action now!
Think about how many online accounts you have set up during your lifetime, on shopping sites, gaming sites, dating sites, forums, chat forums, and social networking. Over your lifetime it’s probably in the hundreds! It would be impossible for a person to remember all of these. However, there are reverse email tools and reverse username tools that help you quickly find the old ones that you no longer use.
One such tool is us! You can visit our free site and check your old usernames against hundreds of websites. See what websites you may have forgotten about, close them, make them private and delete your data.