Hacking might seem like a Hollywood style attack where creepy people in dark clothes type a furious line of code and crack open a “mainframe.” The reality though, is hacking is a lot more mundane. This doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous; actually it’s commonality makes it quite dangerous. And while malicious third parties have a variety of prongs to break through security networks, many rely on human error and information gathering.
This cultivates into dangerous email hacking methods. Email is a direct line to someone that can potentially yank important information right out of them. Willingly too. This is because email hacks require the person to respond to questionable messages with their own information and before they realize what’s happened, third parties already have what they want.
How do you prevent this? The same way you prevent all cyber security threats: skepticism and scrutiny. Aside from outright attacks from organized hackers, most of the time compromised information is a result from carelessness. It’s the clicking on a strange hyperlink or accidentally giving your password to a stranger; those are the actions that really hurt.
This extends to everyone, personal or professional. The only difference is how much damage a malicious email or hacked email account can do. With that in mind, how can you separate legitimate emails from bad ones? And, how do you keep an email safe in general?
The first answer comes from knowing how to identify the bad egg. For the most part, this is relatively easy. Junk email often have bogus offers, flashy pictures and senders which look like a kebab of numbers and letters. Often times they promise endless wealth or easy ways to win a huge prize. A sensible person will know upon receiving that these are fake.
There are other methods, like phishing scams, that are far better at cloaking themselves. Hackers use personal information (like your list of Facebook friends) to attempt to confuse you. You might see a forward from a friend’s name, which at least might get you to click the email itself. Or, an official looking message from a service (like PayPal) might appear. This can certainly grab your attention, because it regards finances. These emails look official, use the actual imagery of the service, and even have an official sender link.
Those are phishing emails as mentioned, and it’s quite easy to mistake them for something legitimate. Once they do so, usually the email has a message asking for account information, or that something is compromised. To make sure this isn’t the case, never click on the actual links within, just check your accounts or other login info. Most of the time you’ll discover it was bogus from the beginning.
Keeping your email from being hacked is, fortunately, a little easier. A majority of the time, all it takes is changing your password every other month and making sure automatic login options are only done on hardware you trust. Just as well, letting the email have its own unique password reduces the chance of it being compromised, along with all other accounts to keep safe.
So long as one doesn’t trust everything they see on the net, they should be relatively safe against all but the most cunning of cyberattacks.