Reduce the risk of your email being hacked by spammers
Have you been receiving bounced email messages from unknown addresses or had your email service blocked by your provider? If so, it’s possible that your email account has been compromised. If you suspect a spammer has gained unauthorized access to your account, one way to check is to look for unrecognizable messages in your email sent folder.
There are a number of ways for spammers to gain the access needed to compromise any email account. Hackers can enter your account by decoding or determining weak passwords or security questions, trick you into entering your password into a phishing website, install malware or spyware onto your machine or compromise a different account for which you use the same password.
Here are some protective steps to secure the future of your account and take back control of your inbox.
• The weakest security point for the majority of email users is the strength of their password. Therefore, it is necessary to change your account password immediately following a compromise, using a randomly generated string of characters. The strongest passwords include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters and are a minimum length of at least 6 letters.
• Avoid using the same password for all social, email and banking sites. Hackers can easily try the same login on all popular sites and gain access to more than just your email account.
• If the spammer has already changed the account password to lock you out, use the “forgot my password” recovery options and secret questions.
• Look at settings for added signatures or auto-forwarding to other email addresses and make necessary changes.
• Change and strengthen all your security questions.
• Reach out and advise your contact list to delete emails if they involve money requests.
• Ensure that you’re using anti-virus protection.
• Use an anti-spyware program to detect and remove spyware and malware. When an email client or PC are infected, security can be compromised again.
• Do not click on links or give out passwords unless you’re 100 percent sure of the website or email. Even clicking on the unsubscribe link within an unknown email can confirm your email address is active and increase the spam sent to your account.
• Sometimes hackers delete all your emails and contacts, so it is important to make backups of anything critical.
Spamming vs. Spoofing – What’s the difference?
Another method used for sending out unsolicited emails is spoofing. This is where someone sends out an email showing your address as the return address. This results in all responses coming to you. Spammers use spoofing in an attempt to get recipients to open their solicitations or gain sensitive information. If a spammer is spoofing, they do not have actual control of your account.