The One Mistake You're Making With Your Personal Email
Security - and How to Fix It!
An elderly retiree, received an email that appeared to be from the bank, asking to update their account information urgently. The email included a link that directed them to a website that looked identical to their bank’s website. Without suspecting anything, they entered the login credentials and personal information.
Days later, they discovered several unauthorized transactions that had been made from the bank account. They realized that they had fallen victim to a phishing scam and had given away personal information to cybercriminals. Either that or they unknowingly shared information online.
This type of scenario is all too common, especially among the elderly and those who are less familiar with technology. Now, imagine if this happened to your parents. How many other accounts are connected to this email? What could one breached email account mean to your family?
In this article, we will talk about the one mistake anyone might be making with their personal email security— and that is oversharing information online.
Email is a vital communication tool that can also be used to spread dangerous ransomware and steal sensitive data. Unfortunately, attackers rely on people oversharing personal and company information to gain access to networks and execute phishing attacks. Therefore, it is essential to practice email security best practices to protect against cyber threats such as phishing and spam, which can result in successful attacks and the spread of malware like ransomware and viruses.
Are you sharing too much information?
Even seemingly harmless information, like the name of your first pet, could be used to steal your data. It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a genuine request for information and a sneaky phishing scam.
When you go on vacation, you might enable your out-of-office response to let people know you’re away. But did you know that this could also contain valuable information for attackers? According to a recent survey, 53% of people share how long they’ll be gone, 51% give out their personal contact info, and 48% provide a point of contact. Plus, 42% even announce where they’re headed to. Now, you’d think people only share this information on social media but a lot of automated email replies contain information such as when the person will be back, how long they’ll be gone, and even add another contact information on there in case of urgent emails. See more statistics here.
If an attacker gets their hands on all of this information, they could easily impersonate you without having to do any real work. Here are several ways email scammers can gather our email addresses:
If you receive an email from an unknown sender asking for your email address, it may be a phishing scam. Scammers can use this information to gain access to your email account and steal personal information.
If you are asked to enter your email address on a website that looks suspicious or untrustworthy, it’s best to avoid doing so. These websites may be designed to steal personal information or install malware on your computer.
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks
If you are using an unsecured Wi-Fi network, such as in a coffee shop or airport, it’s best to avoid entering your email address. Hackers can intercept your connection and steal personal information, including your email address.
Social Engineering Attacks
Scammers may use social engineering tactics to trick you into giving them your email address. For example, they may call you and claim to be from a legitimate company, asking for your email address to “confirm your account details.”
If you receive an unsolicited email asking for your email address, it’s best to delete it. These emails are often part of a larger scam and can lead to identity theft or other forms of fraud.
The Dangers of Oversharing Information
It seems like every day there’s a new news story about criminals finding new ways to steal our personal information. And with massive data breaches happening all too often, it’s no wonder the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) declared 2022 the worst year ever for identity theft. Shockingly, 2.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft and fraud, suffering losses in the billions.
But it’s not just financial losses that we need to worry about. When criminals get a hold of our personally identifiable information (PII), like our full name, Social Security number, and birthday, they can wreak havoc on our careers, reputations, and credit histories, and even leave us with criminal records.
One of the most common ways identity theft can harm us is through financial fraud. Once a criminal has access to our PII or stolen credit card numbers, they can do all sorts of damage, including:
- Creating duplicate credit cards with our credit card numbers
- Withdrawing money from our bank accounts
- Opening fraudulent loans or lines of credit in our names
- Applying for credit at other companies or banks using our information
- Draining our bank accounts
- Committing check fraud and other bank scams in our name
Thankfully, most credit card companies, banks, and debit card issuers won’t hold us responsible for the money spent by an identity thief, as long as we report the fraud quickly and take steps to shut down the scammer. However, that doesn’t stop the thief from draining our savings, racking up debt, and damaging our credit score. And repairing that damage can take an enormous amount of time and effort.
How to Avoid Oversharing Personal Information in Email
Email is a critical tool for communication in today’s world, but it’s also a primary weapon for cybercriminals to steal our personal information. Fortunately, there are some easy steps we can take to avoid oversharing personal information in email.
Be mindful of what you share. Before sending an email, think about the information you’re sharing and whether it’s necessary to include it. Only share what is relevant and necessary.
Use BCC. When sending an email to multiple people, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field to keep email addresses private. This ensures that recipients cannot see each other’s email addresses.
Be cautious with attachments. Avoid sending attachments that contain sensitive information, such as bank statements or personal documents. Instead, consider using a secure file-sharing service.
Use strong passwords. Use strong and unique passwords for your email account. This will help prevent unauthorized access to your account and protect your personal information.
Be cautious with links. Never click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown sender. These links may lead to phishing scams or malicious websites.
Keep your software updated. Make sure your email software and operating system are up to date with the latest security patches. This helps to protect your account from vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
Best Practices for Email Security
Avoid wiring money or using Bitcoin to pay for transactions, as these are common ways for scammers to steal your money. And be cautious about opening attachments from unknown sources. Also, watch out for misspellings and poor grammar in emails, as these are often signs of a scam. If an email asks for sensitive information like passwords, Social Security numbers, or upfront deposits, it’s likely a fraudulent email. By staying vigilant and following these tips, you can protect yourself from harmful email attacks.
One effective way to boost your email security is by using two-factor authentication (2FA). This method requires two different authentication factors to verify your identity, making it much harder for attackers to gain access to your accounts.
On the other hand, you may already be aware of some basic password management practices, such as keeping your password confidential and using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. With a password manager, you can keep all your passwords in one secure location and generate strong, unique passwords for each account. This makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to access your accounts, even if they somehow obtain one of your passwords.
What’s the best email security solution for you?
To avoid email attacks, it’s important to assess your situation objectively and consider the potential impact of a breach, whether personal or for your company. Network security and threat intelligence must account for human error and outdated hardware, but it can be overwhelming to handle it all on your own.
One option is on-premises security services, but this may require giving up some control. Alternatively, outsourcing your email security to the cloud can improve protection while reducing investment. Check out Sangu Mail’s features here.
Regardless of which option you choose, remember that your efforts will be worth it. Implementing our suggestions can significantly reduce the risk of harmful data leaks for both incoming and outgoing emails, providing peace of mind.