The value of your email account cannot be understated. You may think less of your email inbox because there are so many other ways to digitally communicate, but to a hacker, your email is a goldmine of valuable information. You may use your email less than ever before, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect email security.
Your Email Inbox is Full of Valuable Information
What makes your email account valuable to hackers is that it’s literally linked to everything you do online. Almost every Internet service you sign up for requires a submission of your email address. The service will then send you information like terms of service and password information. Therefore, a hacker that accesses your email inbox will have an easy connection to all of these services. This can include vital financial services like your bank account and credit card, and the damage can be worse if a hacker breaks into a business email account and gains access to your organization’s sensitive information, which could include records about your employees and customers.
How a Hacker can Hijack Your Email
It would take very little effort for a hacker that’s breached your email to go to the settings, change the account password, and lock you out of your own account. Once a hacker is in control of your email account, they would then be able to visit the login page of an online server connected with account, enter your username and email address, and then select “Forgot Password?” Unless the online service has extra precautions in place, a hacker with access to your email will essentially be able to pose as you and be sent your passwords.
Hackers Make Easy Money from Stolen Email Accounts
Another option a hacker has with a stolen email account is to sell it to underground brokers. The more online services attached to an email account makes it that much more valuable in the underground market. For example, a stolen Facebook account will fetch a hacker $2.50, and an iTunes account can fetch as much as $8.
Therefore, a hacker with multiple stolen email accounts can essentially strip them down and sell the data for some fast cash. Just think about how much money a hacker could make from breaching your company’s server and gaining access to all of your employee’s email accounts. It may add up to thousands of dollars in easy money, and this could extend to fraudulent charges from stolen credit card numbers.
Once a hacker has access to your account, they can steal your identity or ruin your day in a several other devious ways. For example, a hacker would have the ability to literally hold your email inbox ransom and not relinquish control back until you’ve paid them what they’re asking for. Of course, if your company has instituted its own customizable email solution, you’re already one layer of protection ahead of the malicious intruders looking to complicate your life.
Finding more Victims in a Stolen Email Account
A hacker can also pose as you and spam all of your contacts. It could be an automatic spam message like, “Hey friend, long time no see. Check out this funny website!” (which would lead to a malicious website). A hacker could contact a relative of yours and act like you’re stranded, broke and in need of help. It really depends on how much effort a hacker is willing to invest into your stolen email account. They can sell it on the black market for some quick money, or they can use the information to steal your identity. None of these outcomes are desirable.
What You can do to Protect Your Email Account
With all the new ways to communicate, it’s easy to downplay the role of email, but that doesn’t mean email is any less of a target for hackers. To protect your sensitive information, there are a variety of enterprise-level security solutions you can take advantage of. You can implement multi-factor authentication that requires an SMS message to be sent to your cell phone in order to access your inbox. You can protect yourself with a spam filter, and you can activate a firewall for your business with a Unified Threat Management solution.
There are several more security precautions you can take to keep the email accounts in your organization safe. The very best thing you can do is educate yourself and your staff on best security practices and know what kind of scams to look out for. To learn more about how to protect your email account, give PACE Technical Services a call at 905.763.7896.