Was Your Email Hacked?

Cyber criminals may be the scum of the earth, but you have to hand it to them: they’re creative.

A very common scam of late is the hacking of email accounts. The bad guys hunt around popular web-based email services (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) looking for targets. They essentially hi-jack your email account by trying random passwords. If your password is weak, there’s a good chance they’ll get in.

Typically, the hackers will gather up all the contacts within your email account and send out mass spam messages that contain a click-able web link in the body of the text. That link is either a site that wants to get your money or attempts to install a virus on your machine.

Another frequent hack is to send “cries for help” to everyone in your address book. They pose as you, and send emails to everyone claiming that they are stuck in England or Spain without any money. They’ve had their cell phone and wallet stolen and they need you to wire some money to them quickly. Depending on the situation, this can be a highly effective scam. It has happened to a couple of my friends, and they came very close to falling for it.

The remedy? IMMEDIATELY change the password on your email account. There’s nothing more important than coming up with a very strong password that contains upper/lower case letters, numbers, and odd characters like asterisks and dollar signs.

Secondly, quickly send an email to all of your contacts explaining that you were hacked and to please watch out for suspect emails. Time is of the essence, so jump on it!

Third, call any credit card companies for which you have an online account. The hackers can conceivably get into those accounts by sending a “password request” to the hacked email. Tell the credit card company to immediately freeze the account, then have them reset the password and recovery emails to your preference.

Strong passwords are always a must. Your computer is generally safer if you create a log-in password, and your WiFi router should ALWAYS be setup with WPA2 encryption and a great security key.

Finally, be very wary of ANY request for your personal information. Phishing scams run rampant today, so make sure than you carefully verify the person requesting your information before giving it to them.

Let us know if you have any security questions or concerns. We offer free system and network look-overs and we can help you keep the bad guys out!

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