Public WiFi Hacks
Another place people frequently get hacked is while using public, unsecured WiFi connections. They go to check their email and in the meantime, someone else connected to the network is infiltrating their device and stealing information.
The cost can get high quickly; stolen email accounts contain a laundry list of personal information about both the victim and people they know. Emails may contain information about other accounts, names, addresses, and proprietary information in the case of business emails. Considering the cost of identity theft—frequently in the thousands of dollars for individuals, not to mention the damage to credit—prevention is invaluable.
The best way to keep unsafe connections from being a source of hacks is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that encrypts your connection regardless of the source and allows you to surf the net without concern of your data being taken midstream. It does this by connecting you to a remote server—the medium between you and the rest of the net—so that you’re safe from attack and anonymous to boot.
The difficulty is finding the right provider, as there are many. This VPN review by Secure Thoughts is a good way to get started. In general, it’s best to seek a service that offers unlimited bandwidth and good customer service.
The Enemy Within; Outdated Software
So far, we’ve looked at how email accounts can be lost as a result of phishing attacks and unsafe internet connections, but there’s another vulnerability that puts just as much at risk.
Outdated apps and software present major security risks as vulnerabilities within old versions can be exploited by hackers to get into your systems and accounts. On the bright side, this is also the easiest problem to fix; just install updates! Automatic updates are rarely a bad thing, although you may need to ensure you have the data to spare for them (or just use WiFi with your now VPN secured connection).
The Consequences Are Dire
No matter how an email account ends up compromised—even if it’s because the password was old, reused, or just weak—the results can end up the same. Putting aside the obvious identity theft issues, reputation is another area that a lost email account can really become painful.
Whether the hacked account is your fault or not, it doesn’t change the perception that recipients of your tainted emails may have of you after the fact. Business contacts are less likely to trust you and contacts will likely screen your future emails more carefully.
Keep in mind that hacked accounts often end up hacked a second time later on. Clever hackers may leave themselves a backdoor into your account or set up forwarding of your mail to intercept future communications.
So don’t let it happen; be on the offensive and look for threats actively. Use the above tools to your advantage so you don’t end up on the wrong side of a hacked email account. And share that information with your friends; be on the lookout for suspicious emails that may indicate someone on your contacts was hacked.
We’re all in this together; will you be ready? Tell us what your strategy will be in the comments!
About the Author: Cassie is a cybersecurity blogger and technology specialist. With the increase in cybercrime, she finds herself increasingly busy writing tips and guides on how to avoid becoming the next victim.