What Can Someone Do With Your Email Address? Plenty
Summary: This 3-minute article discusses email scams and tips for securing your email accounts. For further information on securing email, contact GEEKAID Computer and Network Support at https://www.geek-aid.com/. They offer a wide array of home and business IT solutions for your computer systems, including business email service.
No one wants to fall victim to a cyberattack. In fact, more people than ever have ramped up their cyber security. However, most users don’t look at their email addresses as private. They include their email addresses when filling in forms both online and in person and give their email addresses freely to almost anyone who asks. Therein lies the problem. If you are concerned about protecting your financial information, credit card accounts and other private data, you must be equally concerned about protecting your email. To make matters more complicated, there are so many activities and platforms in our daily lives that require entering our email addresses that it is challenging to keep them completely secret. However, “forewarned is forearmed.” Here’s what cybercriminals can do with your email address and what you can do to protect it:
Email Address Scams
- Gain Access To Other Online Accounts – - Once hackers have your email address, they can send emails using “Social Engineering” to trick users into impulsively clicking on malicious links and other actions that can be used to gain access to additional private information on other platforms. Wikipedia (https://
en.wikipedia.org) defines Social Engineering: “In the context of information security, social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. A type of confidence trick for information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional "con" in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme.” Often social engineering tactics capitalize on the impulsivity of users. For example, cybercriminals prompt users to supply more information to comply with the erroneous request or threat by promising a prize or warning of a financial obligation. IT experts contend that almost 98% of hackers use social engineering as part of their arsenal of nefarious tools. /wiki/ Social_engineering_ (security)
- Phishing emails – Cybercriminals use phishing emails to trick users into believing they are from a trusted source and sharing more private data.
- Pretend To Be You – One of the most pervasive scams targeting companies is BECs or Business Email Compromises. By stealing your business email address, hackers can contact your employer, pretending to be you, and trick them into sharing even more of your sensitive private data. Unfortunately, many users don’t scrutinize email headers carefully and will miss the signs of a bogus email address.
- Steal Your Identity – Cyberthieves skillful enough to steal your email and password can learn enough about you through your account to eventually steal your identity. Once your identity is stolen, it may be used for committing financial fraud, pinning any financial or legal exposure on you.
- Steal Additional Personal Data – By combing through your emails, hackers can find credit card information, bank account numbers and other private data to expand their attack. Once the scam gets that far, your identity and financial security are in peril. If your accounts are breached, you should immediately call your bank, credit card companies and any vendors who might be compromised. Next, call IT experts to help you find and delete malicious files and secure your accounts.
- Email Your Contacts – Once hackers gain access to your email account, they can send emails to any of your contacts requesting money, encouraging them to purchase something and continuing the original con with your contacts. Imagine all your contacts investing in something that doesn’t exist or sending money to an imposter. The legal and financial implications for you and your contacts could be devastating.
How To Protect Your Email Address From Cyberattacks
Fortunately, applying cyber security best practices to handling your email accounts can help avoid many email scams. Here are some simple tips for protecting your email:
- Use Complicated, Unique Passwords – The days of using your pet’s name, birthday or anniversary are long gone. Difficult-to-guess passwords are easy first-line defenses against data breaches. Also, it is imperative not to use the same password for all your accounts. If you use the same one all the time, you are opening an opportunity for cyber thieves to access everything. The more they gain access, the more exposed you will be to identity theft. Using a password manager, you can generate unique passwords that include upper and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers. Generated passwords are much harder to guess and afford the user another vital layer of cyber defense.
- Use Multifactor Authentication – By employing two or more methods of authenticating your identity, you can make it much more difficult for hackers to breach your accounts. Typical multifactor authentication includes generated codes sent through emails or SMS text messages, facial recognition, optical recognition and fingerprint scans.
- Create Different Email Accounts For Different Purposes – Using separate email addresses for banking and shopping can immediately mitigate the “reach” of a compromised email account.
Email security is part of regular IT maintenance, and you are the first line of defense against a cyberattack. Many email scams can be avoided by consistently inspecting emails more carefully and stopping to think before clicking on attachments or links.