What do hackers do with email accounts?
Most people these days have an email account. In many ways, our email accounts are the center point of our digital lives—regardless of what other online services we use (Facebook, Instagram, online banking sites, etc.), it’s our email account that we use to register for these services, receive notifications, recover forgotten passwords and more.
For these reasons and others, a hacker with access to our email account can cause some serious damage that extends across the services we use. Unfortunately, though, we don’t often perceive our email accounts to be as lucrative as hackers do.
To help us understand what’s so valuable about access to our inboxes, we’ve put together the top four reasons hackers would want to breach a person’s email account.
1. Inboxes are rich with personal data
We’ve discussed the various documents and other information in your email that puts users at risk of being hacked. From scanned documents and private photos to sensitive information including social security numbers, the amount of data stored in a typical Internet user’s email account makes it kind of a no-brainer that fraudsters would be interested in hacking email accounts. Digging around inboxes can arm fraudsters with information that could easily enable them to pull off identity theft and various forms of fraud, such as financial fraud.
2. Recover passwords
Email addresses are often used to recover lost or forgotten passwords. Once a hacker has breached your email account, he can easily use that newly gained access to find out what other services you’re using, such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. He can then use these services’ Password Recovery features to obtain your password to each service. This is one of the ways hackers go from controlling only your email address to controlling your entire digital life—not something they’d likely be able to do had they breached, say, your Facebook account instead of your email account. And, with control over all of your online services, hackers can easily perform attacks ranging from spam attacks to extortion.
3. Block notification emails from banks
Banks and other services are quick to inform you (via email, of course) of any unusual or suspicious activity. Banks in specific will also inform you of activity such as a money transfer. Why would a hacker performing fraudulent transfers with your bank account allow that to happen?
With access to your email account, hackers can block all messages coming in from a bank or any other service they choose. This blocking rule can stop you from receiving these messages on any platform (mobile, etc.), leaving you oblivious to the fraudulent activity taking place in your account.
4. Stranded traveler scams
Access to your email account means access to all your contacts. More so, by simply spending some time in your Sent folder, a hacker could easily figure out who your closest contacts are (your friends, family members, and colleagues, for example). Those are exactly the people you’d expect would help you out in a time of need, right?
With a list of your closest contacts in-hand, hackers can take advantage of your closest and longest-lasting relationships to carry out Stranded Traveler scams, a type of social engineering attack that relies on tricking innocent users with a variety of made-up scenarios. Learn more about Stranded traveler scams and other popular social engineering attacks.
Your poor friends and family might receive an email that looks like it came from you, stating that you’re stranded in a foreign country with no money and asking for a money transfer that will help you get back home. Anyone who hasn’t seen or heard from you in a while and wouldn’t otherwise be aware of your travel plans may easily fall for this scam and send some money (straight into the hacker’s account, of course).
Regardless of how much you use or depend on your email account, it’s worth it to take the time to improve your email account security. After all, your email account is a portal to your entire digital identity! Here are some tips for improving your email security:
- Never reuse the same password across multiple online accounts, and always make sure you use strong passwords that include letters, numbers, and at least one symbol. To keep track of your passwords and keep them safe and secure, use a password manager like PasswordBox.
- Use two-factor authentication on all of your accounts to enhance security.
- Get LogDog, a free anti-hacking app for Android, to protect your Gmail and Yahoo accounts, and other valuable accounts like Facebook and Dropbox.
- Think you’ve already been hacked? Find out what to do if your Gmail was hacked, or if your Yahoo was hacked. You can also find out here what to do even if your Facebook was hacked.
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The LogDog anti-hacking and privacy tool protects the most popular online account types including Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox by detecting unusual access activity and alerting users so they can take control of their accounts before hackers do.
The service can be used across all devices and OS’s, so you’re always being protected. Here’s the Android and iOS links for you to check out.